German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer is working on a bill that would compensate soldiers in Germany's Bundeswehr military who have been discriminated against because of their homosexuality, RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND) reported Saturday.
Citing a draft of the bill from Kramp-Karrenbauer's office, RND said the compensation would not take the form of social benefits. The new rules will be aimed at addressing the discrimination that took place up through the year 2000.
The Defense Ministry had announced the arrival of such a bill in early July. In particular, the measures focus on soldiers who were sentenced by a military court for engaging in consensual sexual acts.
Homosexuality was illegal in Germany and within its military until the 1960s. In the early days of the Bundeswehr, which was established in 1955, homosexual soldiers were routinely demoted or dismissed.
They were later allowed to remain in the armed forces but were not entrusted with senior roles. Only since 2000 have lesbian, gay and bisexual soldiers been allowed to serve openly in the Bundeswehr. Transgender troops have been permitted to serve openly since 2014.
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Governments slow to make amends
Until now, all past federal governments have declined to annul earlier civil rulings against homosexual soldiers, considered discriminatory from today's point of view.
Kramp-Karrenbauer's proposal would both annul the earlier rulings and provide an explicit rehabilitation certificate for the affected soldiers.
According to the draft of the bill, the new rules would also apply to one-time soldiers of former East Germany.
Kramp-Karrenbauer plans to present the bill on September 17, the same day the Defense Ministry intends to publish a new report entitled "Taboo and Tolerance - The German Armed Forces' Handling of Homosexuality from 1955 to the Turn of the Century."
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Jens Brandenburg, the politician from the business-friendly FDP responsible for the issue in the Bundestag, called it good news. "With dishonorable dismissals and de facto occupational bans, homosexual members of the Bundeswehr were harassed for decades," he said.
Sentences handed down by the military courts on the basis of paragraph 175 of the penal code must now finally be revoked, he added.
"We owe the victims of state discrimination a sincere compensation."