Queer & Present: German Reparations
The German government has announced it will pay up to perhaps 30 million Euros to men jailed under the infamous Paragraph 175. This was used to send thousands of gay people to concentration camps under Hitler, and remained on the books in West Germany until 1994. The records of those arrested under Hitler have already been cleared Convictions will now be removed from the records of 50,000 people who were convicted after the war.
Heiko Maas, the Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection (shown, left) said, “We will never be able to remove these outrages committed by this country but we want to rehabilitate the victims. The convicted homosexual men should no longer have to live with the black mark of a criminal conviction.”
Maas estimated that about 5,000 convicted men are eligible to share in the reparations. Claims will be assessed individually based on a number of factors including time spent in jail.
The real bottom line for me is that this action proves that governments can be expected to behave decently, and sets the bar a little higher for our own, and others. This action was apparently not sensational or controversial in Germany. Imagine what would happen if someone tried it here.
It was covered by the Advocate, and other gay news sites here and around the world. It was also utterly and completely ignored by the mainstream press.
Stan Stansbury is a Contributor at InQueery.