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Members' Publications

Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency highlights injustices against homosexuals in Germany

Background

More than 50,000 men were convicted and sentenced to sometimes lengthy jail terms between 1946 and 1969 under the infamous Paragraph 175, which deemed homosexuality to be a punishable crime. While homosexuality was decriminalised in 1969, the law was not abolished until 1994 and the sentences were never lifted.

Expert Report

The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (FADA) had asked a well-known expert in public law (Prof. Dr. Martin Burgi, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich) to produce an expert opinion on the question of how to annul judgements against homosexuals after 1945 in Germany.

Expert Report
Expert Report
The expert found that it is not only possible to annul these judgements, but that the state is obliged to do so. Until now, there had been what could be seen as a lack of will in politics and also legal objections to annul judgements that have been made in a constitutional state, regardless of how immoral they might look today.
[Read report (in German)]

Change in Law

Following this outcome, FADA sent a copy of the report to the Minister for Justice Heiko Maas, and within a week, on the day of a press conference to discuss the outcome of the report, the Justice Minister announced that the government would put forward legislation that would overturn the convictions and allow for financial compensation to the men who suffered under the legislation. Mr. Maas said the decision was reached after a study by the federal government’s anti-discrimination agency concluded there was no reason the men should not be legally rehabilitated.

“The burden of guilt lies with the state because it made the lives of so many people so difficult,” Heiko Maas said. “Paragraph 175 was from the very beginning unconstitutional. The old convictions are unjust [and] do huge injury to the human dignity of each convicted man.”

Christine Lüders, head of the government’s Anti-Discrimination Authority, said the law had destroyed the lives of thousands of citizens, and wreaked havoc on partnerships and families. “The victims have had to deal with the fact that their convictions have never been lifted. These injustices can no longer be endured,” she said.

Read more on the website of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency

The Guardian: Germany to quash historical convictions of gay men

The New York Times: Germany Says It Will Rescind Convictions for Homosexuality

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External publications

A comparative analysis of gender equality law in Europe 2015

A comparative analysis of the implementation of EU gender equality law in the EU Member States, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia and Turkey.

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Europe

European Commission and IT Companies announce Code of Conduct on illegal online hate speech

The Commission together with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft (“the IT companies”) have unveiled a code of conduct that includes a series of commitments to combat the spread of illegal hate speech online in Europe.

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External publications

A comparative analysis of non-discrimination law in Europe 2015

A comparative analysis of the implementation of EU non-discrimination law in the EU Member States, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia and Turkey.

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External publications

EU’s fundamental rights resolve was sorely tested in 2015, finds FRA’s Fundamental Rights Report 2016

Over one million people sought refuge in the EU in 2015, a fivefold increase from the year before. In its Fundamental Rights Report 2016, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) examines the scale and nature of the challenge and proposes measures to ensure fundamental rights are respected across the EU.

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Europe

Human Rights – A 21st Century Approach to the work of Ombudsmen

The Offices of the Northern Ireland Ombudsman and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission organised an International Conference in Belfast on 26-27 May which focused on sharing the features and benefits of a Human Rights based approach with a bespoke staff manual and on-line tools.

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Europe

What is the No Hate Parliamentary Alliance?

Racism, xenophobia and hatred are still rife in Europe. Hate speech is widespread on the Internet and the media, and too often it finds its way into the political discourse. Can we afford to wait and see if these scourges disappear by themselves? Or should we actively combat them instead?

Already dozens of members of the Parliamentary Assembly have chosen the second option and joined the No Hate Parliamentary Alliance. By signing its Charter, they have committed themselves to combating racism and hatred with all the means at their disposal.

The No Hate Parliamentary Alliance stands ready to co-operate with national parliaments, public authorities and civil society organisations, and it supports the Council of Europe No Hate Speech Movement campaign. We need to join our forces in this fight: the opposite of hate is solidarity.

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Europe

European Commission targets school segregation of Roma children in Hungary with launch of infringement procedure

The European Commission announced today that it will be launching an infringement procedure against Hungary for on-going discrimination against Roma children in schools. The aim of the Commission’s decision to launch an infringement procedure is to ensure that Hungary will implement a solution to rectify the suspected violation of EU law.

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Europe

ECRI Seminar: The national Specialised Bodies’ role in advising legislative and executive authorities and other stakeholders

The ECRI Annual Report was launched on the day of the Seminar of the Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission (ECRI) for national independent authorities combating racism and intolerance. Meeting in Strasbourg on 26-27 May, the focus is on “The national Specialised Bodies’ role in advising legislative and executive authorities and other stakeholders”.

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External publications

Discrimination against young people in Europe is rife, European Youth Forum Report finds

The European Youth Forum Report “Social inclusion and young people – excluding youth: a threat to our future” highlights that the European social model is no longer protecting young people, and they are now at higher risk of social exclusion and poverty.

Discrimination against young people in Europe is rife. Not only has austerity disproportionately affected youth – with cuts to education budgets implemented in twenty countries/regions – but welfare reforms as a response to the crisis have been directly targeted at youth. When it comes to finding a place to live, or accessing healthcare, young people also face obstacles.