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Germany to Clear Gay Men's Convictions

  • VOA News

Germany's lower house of parliament, pictured June 22, 2017.

German lawmakers on Thursday approved a plan to annul the convictions of thousands of gay men sentenced for homosexuality under a Nazi-era law that remained in force after World War II.

The parliament's lower house voted unanimously for the bill, which calls for canceling convictions under what's known as Paragraph 175.

The legislation criminalizing homosexuality was introduced in the 19th century, toughened under Nazi rule and retained in that form in both East and West Germany. In all, more than 68,000 people were convicted under various forms of Paragraph 175 in both German states before it was scrapped in 1994.

The vote Thursday also foresees compensation of $3,340 for each conviction, plus $1,670 for every year of jail time.

An estimated 5,000 of those found guilty under the statute are still alive.

In addition to individual compensation, the government plans to give an annual $557,500 in funding to a foundation that is documenting the stories of men convicted under Paragraph 175.

In October, the British government announced that thousands of men convicted under now-abolished laws outlawing homosexuality would receive posthumous pardons, while those still alive will be eligible to have their criminal records wiped clean.

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