The German President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, formally apologized for the suffering of the LGBTQ community during a public ceremony on Sunday.

The event celebrated the decade anniversary of a Denkmal für die im Nationalsozialismus verfolgten Homosexuellen, “Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism.” The monument is dedicated to the members of the gay community who were oppressed and killed by the Third Reich.

Steinmeier also said that persecution and oppression also followed in the postwar era, after Hitler and his government had been defeated.

In both West and East Germany, homosexuality was on the books as criminal offense, even after the mass killings of the Nazi era. Paragraph 175 of the German Criminal Code criminalized sexual acts between men.

The law, first written in 1871, was not repealed until 1994. The German government did not pardon persons convicted under the law until 2017.

Pink News stated that “Some 50,000 homosexuals – mostly gay men – were officially sentenced by the Nazis, although up to 100,000 were arrested. It’s estimated that between 5,000 and 15,000 were sent to concentration camps. Other punishments included torture and prison.”

According to the CBC, the President said, “this is why I’m asking for forgiveness today, for all the suffering and injustice, and the silence that followed.”

The German President reassured members of the LGBTQ community that they were protected and cherished in the modern, democratic German Republic.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Germany since June 2017.

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