Paragraph 175 Reparations.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas. AP photo.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas. AP photo.

The German government has announced that it will make reparations to the men imprisoned under Paragraph 175, a provision in the country’s criminal code that outlawed sodomy until 1994.

Authorities also plan to expunge the records of the 50,000 jailed under the law.

Although 140,000 people were arrested in total, the country’s justice minister, Heiko Maas, has estimated that around 5,000 individuals — meaning those who are still living — stand to claim the reported payout of 30 million Euros. Mass stated that the amount of financial restitution will be based upon personal assessments of those incarcerated. Factors will include the length of time the individual spent behind bars.

“We will never be able to remove these outrages committed by this country but we want to rehabilitate the victims,” Mass said in a statement. “The convicted homosexual men should no longer have to live with the black mark of a criminal conviction.”

Germany’s Green and Left parties have placed enormous pressure in recent years on federal authorities to make amends to the men incarcerated under the law. Politicians Katja Keul and Volker Beck, both of whom serve in the German Bundestag, have referred to the lack of compensation as “a monstrous disgrace.”


East Germany stopped prosecuting homosexual acts in the 1950s, although West Germany was slower to catch up. The statute was amended in 1969 to prohibit sexual assault in the workplace and gay male prostitution. It also stipulates that as a punishable act intcourse between “a man over twenty-one years old who engages as the active or passive partner in lewdness with another man under the age of twenty-one.” The age of consent would be lowered to 18 in 1973.

Paragraph 175, however, wouldn’t be stricken from the legal code for another 25 years.

Although Germany would expunge the arrests made under Hitler’s regime, that would not apply to the men harassed and imprisoned by police after the war. Those convictions had yet to be vacated.

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  1. says

    When I reloaded the page I only saw the title and the pic and thought “that dude looks like Maas” . Turns out there’s a reason for it.
    About fucking time. I’d cynically thought they’d do the same thing they did with the forced labourers from WWII: Wait until they’re almost all dead.
    To give some context to the prosecution of gay men in Western Germany as opposed to East Germany: More than half the lawyers working in the FRG’s ministry of justice after WWII were active Nazis, often involved in the crimes.
    Whatever you can say about the GDR: they took denazification serious.

  2. says


    Wait until they’re almost all dead.

    Yeah, that happens here. By time anyone decides reparations are a good idea, most of the people owed are dead. Speaks volumes, that.

  3. AlexanderZ says

    Giliell #1

    Whatever you can say about the GDR: they took denazification serious.

    And yet the far-right in Germany is divided by geography.
    The denazification in GDR was more about killing the Nazis, but sparing the ideology. As was the case in every other Soviet occupied country. The Iron Curtain still remains a sharp border for fascism and Nazism, even affecting countries that never had any relation to Nazi Germany.

  4. says

    Alexander Z

    And yet the far-right in Germany is divided by geography.

    It is and it isn’t. It’S more complicated than that.
    One things that is very different between the East and the West is that we in the West had a big influx of permanent immigrants in the 60s and 70s. Sure, we acted as if they wouldn’t stay, thereby effectively creating many of the issues we face today, but all in all we grew up being used to the idea of other people. Racism and xenophobia are lowest among people who have close contact to migrants. Stands to reason: If you know many Turkish/Russian/Syrian people you will quickly notice that some of them are assholes, just like anybody else, and some are like this and others like that. That doesn’t mean there isn’t and wasn’t a tremendous amount of racism, only that a lot of it happened already. The NPD (right wing party to the right of the AfD) was in several state parliaments in the 70s in the West, among the deadliest terrorist attacks of the 90s were the arson attacks in Mölln and Solingen wich were both in the West. Right now the AfD won two digit numbers in all parliaments where there was an election.
    Also, you cannot claim that legalising abortion and male homosexuality are continuations of Nazi politics and ideology. And I didn’t know that France (LePen), the UK (that whole Brexit thing) and the USA (Trump anybody?) were on the eastern side of the iron curtain.

  5. Ice Swimmer says

    The Nazi lawyers are at least as big a thing as the Chancellorship of the former Nazi Kurt-Georg Kiesinger in the late sixties (called der Edel-Nazi-Kanzler by Wolf Biermann in a song) was.

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