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German lawmakers approve memorial for gay victims of Nazis

November 13, 2003

Klaus Wowereit of the Social Democratic Party of Berlin and also now mayor of the German capital (AFP) BERLIN — Germany will build a national memorial to homosexuals persecuted or killed under the Nazis, complementing the planned German memorial to the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, a parliament committee decided Thursday.

Nazi Germany declared homosexuality an aberration that threatened the German race and convicted some 50,000 homosexuals as criminals. An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 gay men were deported to concentration camps, where few survived.

A bill to build a memorial in Berlin passed the lower house's culture committee with the support of the governing Social Democrats and Greens, who also have the majority on the house floor. The conservative opposition Christian Democrats opposed the measure.

"Homosexual victims of Nazism have gotten too little attention in the past in Germany's culture of remembrance," Greens lawmakers said in a statement. Architects will be asked to submit proposals for the design.

Few gays convicted by the Nazis came forward after World War II because of the continuing stigma - and because the law used against them remained on the books in West Germany until 1969.

The German parliament last year issued a formal pardon for homosexuals convicted under the Nazis. One reason the pardon took so long was because supporters linked it to a blanket rehabilitation of 22,000 Wehrmacht deserters, a move many conservatives opposed. –Sapa-AP

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