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Paragraph 175 & The Fight To Repeal It

Updated on August 10, 2011

Paragraph 175

In 1934 by order of Hienrich Himmler a special Gestapo division was set up for the arrest of homosexuals in Germany. One of the first orders given to this division was obtaining so called ‘Pink Lists’ from the police from all over Germany that had been compiled since 1900 naming those they suspected of being homosexual.

September 1st 1935 an amended version of paragraph 175 (the criminal code which was originally framed in 1871) came in to effect. Punishing a broad range of lewd, lascivious behaviour between men and completely banning homosexuality between men in German society with the threat of imprisonment, lesbianism was not banned.

In 1936 Heinrich Himmler created the ’Reich Central Office’ for the combating of homosexuality and abortion. Special office (IIS) of the executive department 11 of the Gestapo was its name.

The linking of homosexuality and abortion reflected the Nazi regimes population policies to promote a higher birth rate of its Aryan population. In Bad Tolz on February 18th 1937 before a group of high ranking SS officers Heinrich Himmler gave a talk on the dangers that homosexuality and abortion posed to the German birth rate.

Paragraph 175 brought the number of prosecutions to an increase peaking in the years of 1937 to 1939 in both Germany and the annexed Austria in 1938. Half of all the convictions were of homosexual activity under the regime, occurred at this time.

It is known that you could be suspected of being homosexual for giving a look, a touch, a gesture and even flirting or talking to a stranger, you could be arrested and imprisoned without a trial.


The amended1935 version of Paragraph 175 was still in place in the 60s and homosexuals could be arrested and imprisoned in both west and east germany.

In 1961 two activists in Hamburg sent a petition to the federal parliament again knowing the that criminal code would be amended again 1962 leaving paragraph 175 in tact.

Kurt Huller and Christian, Adolf Isermeyer were the activists unfortunately a disagreement between them lead to two separate petitions being sent in 1962 rather than just one.

That same year Joachim Schoaps wrote an article “Should Homosexuality Remain A Criminal Offence?”in the magazine Monat of 1962, this lead to a huge negative reaction from a german paper known as “Christ In Der Weld”.

In 1963 a youth magazine printed articles about advocating tolerance to homosexual men and women in german society, this was how the movements began.

Gay movements in germany did not happen in the 1960s so the homosexual movements abroad in Europe and america were vital in order for awareness in society. An international organisation known as (IHWO) or International Homosexual World Organisation founded in Denmark played a big part as they published a magazine in german and sent it to the homosexuals in Germany.

On May 21st 1965 the first ever homosexual demonstration occurred in America on the streets in front of the Whitehouse which was organized by the Mattochine Society, however European gay and lesbian demonstrations did not occur until the 1970.

1966 onwards - west germany was ruled by the grand coalition government an opportunity arose to revise the criminal code making homosexuality appear on the agenda, with many magazines publishing articles relating to this. Again another plea was placed in to the government to decriminalize homosexuality but it was not until 1968 when Rolf Italiaander sent pre release copies of his book Weder Krankheit Noch Verbrechen (neither illness nor crime) to the parliamentarians receiving well known compliments and comments from the government and the known personalities in politics and the arts.

Finally on June 25th 1969paragraph 175 was repealed and amended to allow sexual acts between consenting adults over 21 years of age in West Germany, however East Germany was under communist rule and therefore did not revoke paragraph 175 and it remained in place with the threat of imprisonment of 5yrs until 1989 when the Berlin wall came down,

thus making homosexuality legal in all parts of Germany.


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    • calpol25 profile image

      Callum 6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      I know what you mean, I belong to several activist groups on facebook and causes, I am also an activist and rights campaigner which I do alongside so many other wonderful people. I have strong links with an LGBT group in Uganda and several other countries where being gay carries the death penalty :)

    • alian346 profile image

      alian346 6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      A very well written and researched article, Callum.

      What really concerns me at present are the number of 'P175s' there are in so many countries around the world to this day - some with even worse penalties (death). All you need to do is look up Wiki.


    • calpol25 profile image

      Callum 6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      Hello there WD thank you for commenting and of course you can print it off you have my full permission x :-) Always look forward to your comments x

      I wish you the very best....

      Calpol 25

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 6 years ago from Space Coast

      May I chide in? I am an American Christian. I would never council anyone to change! Here's why . . . I knew an old Baptist Preacher from Kentucky. He told me this story about the meanest man in town. He owned a topless bar/Road house out of the city limits. There is no "law" out there to this day. Some how the guy got "saved". The preacher was over-joyed. When he met the man in his office, later he almost asked the guy if he was going to close the bar now, but he sensed the Lord tell him to hold still and pray. After about 6 months the guy came back. He was excited about. The Lord had convinced him of his sin. The preacher was anticipating the closing of the bar that had led many a Christian to sin.

      The guy proclaimed,"I have to quit watering down the whiskey!" Eventually, the guy turned the bar into a restaurant. It has been extremely successful and is there today.

      The whole Idea af Christianity is that you don't need a guide. More experienced people are there in case you ask a question about something you don't grasp, not to be policemen.

      By the way. Using the Nazi's was pure Genius! Do you mind if I print it and hand it out in Church?

    • calpol25 profile image

      Callum 6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      Hi D.william I certainly know what you mean, I am glad you like the article. Equality is something I am really passionate about achieving for Gay people in society because we do not want wars, or persecution or anything like that we just want to live in peace side by side every one else but like you say bigots dont want us near and so oppose us from all corners... Thats why we have to keep fighting x :-)

    • d.william profile image

      d.william 6 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      Good article. Very interesting. I just read that the republican party here in the U.S. has just signed a pact that pledges to change the constitution banning homosexuality and making same sex marriages illegal forever. Imagine the gall. These narrow minded bigots would set back equality by hundreds of years, and totally destroy our society, to be able to mandate morality on the public (THEIR brand of morality that is). This should NEVER have been a governmental issue, nor a religious one. Who in hell do those religious zealots think they are? In our so called 'civilized' society it seems there is a basic need to have some group of people to discriminate against. It somehow makes these people feel superior to pass judgement on others who they know nothing about.

      Equality will eventually prevail, but at what cost? After many more deaths, imprisonments, and ruining thousands of lives? For all those who are so adamantly opposed to homosexuals, i can only wish one thing: that their children are born this way too, and the rest of their gay relatives grow a set of balls and open their closet doors and step out into the sunshine, where we all belong - Straight or Gay.

    • gustaw1981 profile image

      gustaw1981 6 years ago from Poland

      Huh... yes tolerance is one thing. I would say if everyone would like to try hard to talk and try to understand the other person. I think we should all strive to search for more aware ways of making decisions and thinking on the responsibilities and obligations we already have. Unfortunatelly i do not think this is possible, as we get results after we make decisions and helps accepting people the way they are. This also helps to protect our own boundaries.

      It is like thinking whether the WWII was good or not. Hard to say - it was and it is a fact. I am more for learning from the past, still not being sure what is going to happen next.

      I also think it is futile to think others will be the same as we are. Pity sometimes, but teaches us very important lessons.

    • calpol25 profile image

      Callum 6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      Thankyou gustaw1981 for being honest and for commenting, if only more people could be as tolerant and accepting then we would not have half of the trouble and persecution that we face today..

    • gustaw1981 profile image

      gustaw1981 6 years ago from Poland

      This is an interesting piece of history. As for homosexuals - I was never really sure what to think about it. I ran from denying it to being extremally tolerant. In the end - if it exists in the lifestream, I think the best way is to accept it.

    • calpol25 profile image

      Callum 6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      I have heard of that Michele Bachman, you can not believe these people exist in our society today but they do dont they.. Thanks for posting and I hope that she doesn't get the nomination too.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      You may or may not be aware of an already presidential-hopeful by the name of Michele Bachman. Her psychologist husband owns 2 Christian counseling clinics where they try to 'cure' homosexuality. Let's hope she doesn't get the nomination!

    • calpol25 profile image

      Callum 6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      Thank you sam3m

      That we honestly do not know, I believe it stems to the whole who is right and wrong, and then again some people attack something that they do not understand..or put a barrier up because they think it will protect them from it... Its just ignorance really.

    • sam3m profile image

      sam3m 6 years ago from New York

      very interesting recounting of history unknown to me and probably many others. the motivation behind the hatred and fear of the homosexual community is still puzzling. how does homosexual behavior effect them?