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Germany compensates hundreds convicted under Nazi-era homosexuality law

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A stencil with a male couple can be seen at a traffic light system in Bielefeld, Germany.
A stencil with a male couple can be seen at a traffic light system in Bielefeld, Germany.   -   Copyright  Friso Gentsch/dpa via AP, FILE

Germany has compensated nearly 250 people who were prosecuted or investigated under a Nazi-era law criminalising homosexuality.

By September, 317 people had applied for compensation for their persecution, according to the Federal Office of Justice.

So far, the ministry said it had paid out compensation worth nearly €860,000 in a total of 249 cases.

Fourteen applications are still being processed, eighteen were rejected and thirty-six more were withdrawn, the office said.

The so-called "Paragraph 175 law" had remained in force in West Germany in its Nazi-era form until homosexuality was decriminalised in 1969.

Between 1949 and 1969, an estimated 50,000 men were convicted under the law, which was first introduced in the 19th century but toughened under Nazi rule.

In 2017, German lawmakers approved the annulment of thousands of convictions. Those found guilty would receive payments of €3,000, plus €1,500 for every year of jail time served.

Two years later, Berlin also extended compensation to those people who were placed under investigation or taken into investigative custody but not convicted.

Payments of €500 were offered per investigation, with €1,500 for each year of time in pre-trial custody started, and €1,500 for other professional, financial, or health disadvantages related to the law.

Germany's parliament also expressed regret that Paragraph 175 was retained after the war and not entirely removed until 1994.

In 2002, it annulled the convictions of gay men under Nazi rule but not the post-war convictions.

The compensation also applies to men convicted in communist East Germany, which had a milder version of Paragraph 175 and decriminalized homosexuality in 1968.

In all, some 68,300 people were convicted under various forms of Paragraph 175 in both German states.

The deadline for new applications for compensation is July 21 next year.