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Nazi-Era Sodomy Law Still Haunts Gay Germans

by Sergio N. Candido
Monday Mar 11, 2013

Graying gays who were convicted on sodomy charges in West Germany during the first half of the 20th century under a Nazi-era law are asking for their records to be cleared before they die.

While the country is moderately liberal and gays rights have recently been expanded to allow gay couples to adopt, a 1957 decision from the Constitutional Court of West Germany has the law still standing.

The main problem, according to the New York Times, is the current German Parliament is not sure they have to power to overrule court decision made when they country was divided in two.

"There is no mechanism for getting rid of old Constitutional Court decisions," Manfred Bruns, a retired federal prosecutor and an executive board member at the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany, told the Times. "When the court's view of the law changes, then it simply rules accordingly and old verdicts are paved over."

Bruns said that about 50,000 men persecuted after World War II have still have convictions of sodomy on their police records.

The hope for gay Germans to clear their names lies on a move by Chancellor Angela Merkel, who's seeking reelection and could attempt to override the long-time law to convince liberals and independents, or on the possibility of a bill drafted and passed before the elections.

"It's not about the money. No one cares about that," Klaus Born, who was convicted in the 1960s under the law, told the Times. "These convictions hurt people."

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