Silence=concentration camp

"Finally victims will be rehabilitated -- even if many are already dead," said a campaigner friday, aparently with no irony, after Germany's parliament passed legislation allowing around 50,000 gay men prosecuted by the Nazis because of their sexuality to be pardoned, 57 years after the end of the Nazi regime.

Silence earlier meant concentration camp, sometimes death, and after the war, very often continued imprisonment, for the victims of heterosexism.

Anti-gay measures passed in 1935 formed part of a Nazi philosophy that deemed homosexuals alien to the state's aim to create a "super-race."

"The new state ... must firmly counter all unnatural sexual urges," the preamble to the 1935 law said, singling out gay men.

If found guilty, victims faced up to 10 years in prison or concentration camps, where thousands died. Other gay men were forcibly sterilized or subjected to medical experiments.

The legislation remained unchanged on Germany's statute books until 1969.

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Published on May 18, 2002 7:47 PM.

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