The German government approved a law Wednesday to compensate gay soldiers who had been discriminated against in the army before the policy change 20 years ago. The AP reported.
The decision came two months after Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Carrenbauer apologized for decades of discrimination.
A study commissioned by her ministry documented “systematic discrimination” in the Bundeswehr between 1955 and 2000.
The study argued that “same-sex orientation was seen as a security threat in the Bundeswehr up to the millennium’s end and made a career as an officer or non-commissioned officer impossible.
Kramp-Karrenbauer said the affected soldiers would be “rehabilitated” under the new legislation.
The law provides for the overturning of sentences handed down by military courts for consensual homosexual sex, with compensation of 3,000 euros for each of those sentences, as well as for soldiers who have been fired and deprived of promotion. The Ministry of Defense estimates that about 1000 people will apply for compensation.
“I know we can’t compensate for the personal injuries they’ve suffered, but with the verdict overturned and the lump-sum compensation paid, we want to send a message of redress to restore the dignity of these people who wanted nothing more than to serve Germany,” Kramp-Karenbauer said.
This is Germany’s last step to address past discrimination based on sexual orientation. In 2017, Parliament voted to overturn the sentencing of thousands of gay men under a law that criminalizes male homosexuality, which was zealously used in West Germany after World War II.