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Germany to Compensate 50,000 Convicted Homosexuals

Flickr/Robert Mark

Under "Article 175," gay men were criminalized in post-World War II West Germany.

Earlier today, members of Germany's Cabinet approved a bill annulling convictions of thousands of gay men from a law that criminalized homosexuality in post-World War II West Germany.

"Article 175" was 19th century legislation making homosexuality illegal and was applied after the war throughout West Germany. A version of the law was also in effect in Communist controlled East Germany. Homosexuality was ultimately decriminalized in 1969, but the legislation remained on the books until 1994.

The bill, which was approved Wednesday by Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet, still requires final approval from Germany's Parliament where her ruling right-left coalition has a large majority. When cleared, it will not only annul the men's convictions, but also offer compensation: 3,000 euros for each conviction and an additional 1,500 euros for every year of jail time the men started. This will help overturn the convictions of more than 50,000 men.

"Article 175 destroyed careers and ruined lives," Justice Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement. "The few victims who are still alive today deserve to finally have justice."

The Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany "welcomes the fact that, after long decades of ignorance, legal consequences are being drawn from the serious mass human rights violations that were committed against homosexual people by the democratic state," spokesman Helmut Metzner said.

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