German lawmakers back compensation for gay soldiers

by Reuters
Thursday, 20 May 2021 18:18 GMT

Soldiers of the German armed forces Bundeswehr train for "Voluntary military service in homeland security" in Berlin, Germany, April 27, 2021. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi

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Until 2000, gay soldiers could be denied promotions, discharged from military service or even criminally convicted

BERLIN, May 20 (Reuters) - German lawmakers voted for legislation on Thursday to rehabilitate soldiers who for decades faced discrimination, discharge or convictions on the basis of their sexual orientation.

Until the year 2000, Germany's military considered that homosexuals posed a threat to the discipline of the troops and were not suitable as superior officers.

Gay soldiers could be denied promotions, discharged from military service or even criminally convicted.

Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who apologised for the years of discrimination, said the new law was a sign that Germany was now taking responsibility.

"It is our duty of care to make sure that those individuals who were dishonoured during their service have security and get the best possible support," she told the Bundestag lower house of parliament before the vote.

Under the new law, soldiers can ask for such convictions to be expunged, and they are entitled to some financial compensation.

The Lesbian and Gay Association in Germany welcomed the new law but said it fell short.

"More comprehensive reparations for the state-sanctioned injustice suffered would include higher compensation, hardship provisions, the possibility of belated promotions and collective compensation," Axel Hochrein, a board member of the association, said in a statement ahead of the vote.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers and Maria Sheahan. Editing by Jane Merriman)