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Paragraph 175

Related: homosexuality - Germany


Paragraph 175 was a provision of the German Criminal Code from May 15, 1871 to March 10, 1994, which made male homosexuality a crime. .

Since the 1890's sexual reformers fought against the "disgraceful paragraph", and soon won the support of leading Social Democrats, some Liberals, and the Communist Party. In 1929, a Reichstag Committee voted to repeal Paragraph 175. However, the Nazi rise to power prevented its implementation.

In 1935, the Nazis exacerbated the law so that the police could pursue any homosexual act whatsoever (even an embrace or a kiss). Convictions multiplied by a number of ten to about 8,000 per annum. Even more, the Gestapo could carry off gay people into concentration camps without any legal justification at all (no matter if they had been acquitted or already served their sentence in jail). Thus, between 5,000 and 15,000 homosexual men were not (or not only) imprisoned, but (later also) forced into concentration camps, where they had to wear the pink triangle. The majority of them died there.

In 1945, when concentration camps were liberated, gays were not freed but made to serve out their sentence under Paragraph 175. In 1950, East Germany abolished Nazi amendments to Paragraph 175, whereas West Germany kept them and had them even confirmed by its supreme court. About 100,000 men were implicated in legal proceedings from 1945 to 1969, and about 50,000 were convicted (if they had not committed suicide before, as many did). But in 1969, Social Democrats eased Paragraph 175 to an age of consent of 21. It was lowered to 18 in 1973, and finally repealed in 1994. East Germany reformed its more lenient version of the paragraph already in 1968, and repealed it in 1988. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paragraph175

Magnus Hirschfeld [...]

1897: Scientific Humanitarian Committee is esatablished by Magnus Hirschfeld, President. Hirschfeld tries to ban paragraph 175 of the Prussian penal code which bans homosexuality.

Paragraph 175 (2000) - Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman

  1. Paragraph 175 (2000) - Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Rupert Everett narrates this sensitive documentary about the Nazi persecution of homosexuals during World War II. "Paragraph 175" refers to the old German penal code concerning homosexuality, which was used to justify the prosecution of gay men during the war (the code ignored lesbians, still considered viable baby-making vessels). As mere rumor became enough to justify imprisonment, over 100,000 were arrested and between 10,000 and 15,000 were sent to concentration camps. In Paragraph 175, Klaus Müller, a historian from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, sets out to interview the fewer than 10 who are known to remain alive. The film covers the astonishingly quick rise of Hitler (one interviewee points out how ridiculous a figure he seemed at first) and the shock that more liberal Germans felt as it became clear that he was a force to be reckoned with. Some of the film's most touching moments come when the participants reminisce about their first loves and the "homosexual Eden" that was Berlin in the 1930s. This is a beautifully well made documentary that poignantly captures a piece of nearly forgotten history. --Ali Davis, amazon.com

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