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Still Taboo despite Reforms (March 12, 1973)

When laws covering sexual offenses were liberalized, legislators once again reformed Paragraph 175, making only homosexual acts with young people punishable by law. This Spiegel article analyzes the ongoing treatment of homosexuality as a taboo in West Germany, a situation that made it difficult for gay groups to organize.

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“Admit that You’re Different”

[ . . . ]

The special committee in the Bundestag has been working for years on the criminal code reform for a more far-reaching liberalization of Paragraph 175 [of the Basic Law]. The so-called legal age of consent is supposed to be lowered from 21 to 18 and impunity extended to male prostitutes. The committee will discuss the rewording of the section this Wednesday.

But in recent weeks homosexuals have paid far more attention to a movie shown on German television than to the long-standing debate on the criminal code reform. The film Nicht der Homosexuelle ist pervers, sondern die Situation, in der er lebt [The Homosexual isn’t Perverse, the Situation that He Lives in Is] was shown in a late-night broadcast (except in Bavaria) on the First Channel (ARD*). The young Berlin filmmaker and transvestite Rosa von Praunheim (given name: Holger Mischwitzky), 30, planned the film as a “gay shocker” – with success.

Not only nearly all the homosexuals, but most of the other TV viewers were shocked as well, despite a marathon discussion between homosexuals, scholars, politicians, and journalists following the broadcast. The militant air of the markedly ideological, smaller segment of the minority shocked citizens even more.

[ . . . ]

Only a minuscule minority within the German homo-minority is actively involved in public appearances. Most continue to keep to themselves, hiding their otherness as much as possible, often even from parents and siblings.

In the last few months, people in several major cities experienced something that was virtually unthinkable even a year ago: Homosexuals demonstrated on behalf of their demands. Right now they are still few in number, and they don’t know exactly what they want, but they want it resolutely.

[ . . . ]

* A nationwide German public television station – trans.

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