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Still Taboo despite Reforms (March 12, 1973)

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By depicting a “world of gays” so alienated that it bordered on caricature, director Praunheim wanted to “call on homosexuals to overcome their inordinate fear and fight for their own rights.” [ . . . ]

The so-called modification of Paragraph 175, which the German judiciary has discussed over seven decades but never finished, came to be only as a compromise in 1969. Time seemed to be of the essence, because the Federal Republic is nearly the only country in Europe in which male homosexuality is still criminalized.

That is why the presently valid Paragraph 175 shows all the shortcomings of compromise and haste. While it is no longer punishable for men over 21 “to carry on illicit sexual acts” (whatever that means) with one another, adolescents are threatened with up to five years in prison: “a man over 18 who carries on illicit sex, or lets himself be abused for such illicit sex, with another man under 21.”

[ . . . ]

It is taken for granted in the select criminal law committee that in the Federal Republic the age of protection will be lowered from 21 to 18 years.

[ . . . ]

Homosexuals are much more vulnerable to the unwritten laws of society than to any criminal statute, as these cannot be abolished by the stroke of a pen. According to [Frankfurt law professor Friedrich] Geerds, “Even if decriminalized, a homosexual is still subject to undisguised contempt and social ostracism. He therefore continues to have reason, very good reason, not to display his different nature, but on the contrary to hide it as much as possible.”

[ . . . ]

Source: “Bekennt, daß ihr anders seid” [“Admit that You’re Different”], Der Spiegel, no. 11, March 12, 1973, pp. 46-57.

Translation: Allison Brown

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