The German Justice Ministry has also planned to compensate those who were convicted under the archaic sex laws.
Germany’s parliament has officially voted to pardon and compensate more than 50,000 gay men who were convicted under Paragraph 175 – an archaic law which criminalised homosexuality.
Over 5,000 surviving victims will receive €3,000 (£2,630 / $3,350) in compensation, along with €1,500 for every year spent in jail.
Heiko Mass, German Justice Minister, said: “The rehabilitation of men who ended up in court purely because of their sexuality is long overdue.
They were persecuted, punished and ostracised by the German state just because of their love for men, because of their sexual identity.
He also called the law a “belated act of justice”, and said it created “unimaginable suffering, which led to self-denial, sham marriages, harassment and blackmail.”
Paragraph 175 was introduced in 1871 and outlawed “sexual acts contrary to nature… be it between people of the male gender or between people and animals.”
Despite being introduced in 1871, the law was rarely enforced until the Second World War, which saw the Nazi’s send thousands of gay men and lesbians to concentration camps.
After the Holocaust, East Germany abolished the Nazi’s amendments to the law in 1950, but West Germany did not.
From 1949-1969, over 100,000 gay men were drawn into legal proceedings, with over 50,000 convicted – which resulted in some taking their own lives.
In 1969, Homosexuality was finally decriminalised but wasn’t repealed until 1994.
Those who were convicted during the Nazi years were expunged in 2002, and until now there hadn’t been any progress on pardoning those after the war.
We shall never be able to completely atone for the crimes of the judicial system, but we want to rehabilitate the victims. Prosecuted gay men should no longer have to live with the stigma of their conviction.
Words Sam Damshenas