For gay men in the German armed forces, a discovery meant the end of their careers, and sometimes their civilian existence, for a long time. Only in 2000 did the decisive change of course take place. Today the cabinet has decided to compensate those affected.
Berlin (dpa) – Discriminated gay soldiers must be rehabilitated and financially compensated with a token amount. The cabinet on Wednesday passed a bill that provides for the quashing of military court rulings for consensual homosexual acts.
3,000 euros in damages is due for each overturned judgment. This amount is also paid to soldiers who have been fired because of their sexual orientation, are no longer promoted or are no longer in charge of responsible duties. This applies to both Bundeswehr soldiers and members of the former East German People’s Army.
The Department of Defense estimates that about 1,000 affected people will seek compensation. The bill has yet to be passed by the Bundestag.
Homosexual acts were a criminal offense until the late 1960s and also occupied Bundeswehr courts. In the early years of the Bundeswehr, gay soldiers also had to expect to be demoted or fired. Later they were able to remain in the armed forces, but they were no longer assigned responsible tasks. Institutional discrimination against homosexuals in the Bundeswehr was not ended until July 3, 2000, when a decree on the personnel management of homosexual soldiers was repealed.
Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had already recognized the importance of rehabilitation before the cabinet meeting. “This bill is a good sign against discrimination, but above all an important step for those affected themselves,” said the CDU leader. It is true that one cannot correct the personal injustice suffered. But with the quashing of verdicts of the troop courts and with the payment of symbolic compensation, one places “a sign of the restoration of the dignity of these people who wanted nothing more than to serve Germany”.