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Austria Puts Aside Millions for Gay People Who Faced Prosecution

Austria has set aside millions of euros to compensate thousands of gay people who until two decades ago faced prosecution, its justice minister has said.

The country decriminalised homosexuality in 1971 but certain discriminatory provisions remained in force until the early 2000s.

A ban on male homosexual prostitution remained in place until 1989 although heterosexual prostitution was legal. The age of consent for sexual contact between men was 18 – instead of 14 for heterosexuals – until 2002.

On Tuesday the justice minister, Alma Zadić, said an estimated 11,000 people were eligible for compensation, with a total of €33m (£29m) allotted for payout.

Flanked by two LGBTQ+ flags, she told reporters: “This financial compensation can never, never make up for the suffering and injustice that happened … but it is of immense importance that we … finally take responsibility for this part of our history.”

Gay people who were investigated under the now-repealed laws would get €500, while convictions would be quashed, she said.

Those who were convicted would get €3,000 and more if they were jailed or suffered in terms of health, economically or in their professional lives.

The law, allowing for compensation effective from February next year, was expected to pass parliament this year, a ministry speaker told AFP.

People will have to come forward to claim the compensation.

Zadić – who has previously apologised over the prosecutions gay men and women faced – also urged people to stand up against hatred and violence against the LGBTQ+ community, which she said was on the rise.

Austria is not the first country to take this step. In 2017, Germany’s parliament voted to quash the convictions of 50,000 gay men sentenced for homosexuality under a Nazi-era law that remained in force after the war, and offer compensation.

Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938, leading to the persecution not only of Jews but also gay people and others targeted by the Nazis.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Austria since 2019, and surveys show that Austrian public opinion is firmly on the side of equal treatment for same-sex couples.

Source : Guardian

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