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Germany Plans To Rescind Decades-Old Convictions For Homosexuality

The Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, right, and Holocaust survivor Rudolf Brazda, left, talk in front of a memorial for homosexual victims persecuted by the Nazi regime in Berlin, Germany, Friday, June 27, 2008.
Michael Sohn
/
AP

This week Germany rescinded about 50,000 convictions for homosexual behavior that occurred between 1949 and 1969. 

The law in question was actually repealed in 1994, but those convictions were never taken off the books, so this move marks a step toward demonstrating the country’s acceptance of sexual orientation.

Rebecca Cruise, the assistant dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies, says timing becomes an issue 50-70 years later.

“They're wanting to get this law into place so that these men can be legally rehabilitated and perhaps be eligible for some sort of financial compensation,” Cruise said. “But obviously they're aging, and they want to make sure they can do this so that most of them can receive this compensation.”

Germany has recognized civil unions since 2001, but they still haven’t legalized gay marriage. The attitude around the original law stems from how Nazis treated homosexuals during the Second World War, and Cruise says there are memorials throughout Germany that atone for that.

“This does seem kind of late to the game,” Cruise said.

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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