Last edited: July 11, 2004

Germany Votes to Pardon Gays Prosecuted by Nazis

Reuters, May 17, 2002

BERLIN—Germany’s parliament passed legislation Friday allowing around 50,000 gay men prosecuted by the Nazis because of their sexuality to be pardoned, even posthumously.

The legislation also amended a 1998 law to make it easier for convictions against deserters from the German army between 1933 and 1945 to be quashed.

Anti-gay measures passed in 1935 formed part of a Nazi philosophy that deemed homosexuals alien to the state’s aim to create a "super-race."

"The new state ... must firmly counter all unnatural sexual urges," the preamble to the 1935 law said, singling out gay men.

If found guilty, victims faced up to 10 years in prison or concentration camps, where thousands died. Other gay men were forcibly sterilized or subjected to medical experiments.

The legislation remained unchanged on Germany’s statute books until 1969.

Friday’s legislation amended a 1998 bill aimed at tackling legal injustices handed down during Adolf Hitler’s regime which had been criticized for only allowing judicial reviews on a case-by-case basis and leaving out some victims, including homosexuals.

Campaigners welcomed the vote.

"Finally victims will be rehabilitated—even if many are already dead, this will make things easier for their relations and descendants," Farid Mueller, a Hamburg campaigner said in a statement.

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