Austria Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage and Compensates LGBTQ Victims of Past Laws

The Austrian government has set aside millions of euros in compensation for gay and lesbian citizens prosecuted for their sexuality over 20 years ago. Here’s the story.

New Announcement for Austrian LGBTQ

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“It can never make up for the suffering and injustice.” – This week, Austrian justice minister Alma Zadić announced that the Austrian government has set aside millions of euros to compensate gay men and women who were prosecuted under discriminatory laws, some of which were only repealed 20 years ago.

33M for 11,000 People

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This week, Zadić announced to reporters that €33m had been allocated to the cause, and around 11,000 people would be eligible for compensation.

Immensely Important Decision

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“This financial compensation can never, never make up for the suffering and injustice that happened,” she declared. “But it is of immense importance that we … finally take responsibility for this part of our history.”

Tiered Compensation

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All previous convictions would be quashed, and any people who were investigated under those historical laws would be eligible to receive €500, while those convicted would receive €3,000.

Reparations for Those Imprisoned and Affected

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Those who were jailed or suffered negative impacts on their health, finances, or personal lives will be entitled to higher compensation. However, payments will not be automatic and affected people will need to come forward to claim compensation.

Four Provisions Left

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Homosexuality was criminalized under Austrian law until 1971, but for 30 years following decriminalization, there were four discriminatory provisions in place.

Unfair Bias

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These provisions include a ban on homosexual prostitution until 1989 (while heterosexual prostitution was already legal), and an age of consent law set to 18 for homosexual contact, compared to just 14 years old for heterosexuals.  

No Organizations or Advertising

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They also outlawed public approval or advertisements of same-sex relations. They criminalized the founding of any LGBTQ organizations, as well as memberships to these organizations.

The Effects Remain Long After

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The age of consent law was the last provision to be removed, which did not happen until 2002.

Unfortunately, the sentences that were already given remained in place, as did their mark on the criminal record of thousands of gay Austrians. Some people were still being sent to institutions on the grounds of being “mentally abnormal criminals.” 

Making Up for the Past

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The declared compensation would be given to LGBTQ people who were prosecuted or otherwise directly affected by these laws. 

Apologies and Acknowledgments

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This isn’t the first time the Austrian government has attempted to make amends to the LGBTQ community over this unfortunate past. Zadić herself has previously apologized on behalf of the government for historic prosecutions of gay and lesbian Austrians.

Austrians, Make a Stand

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In the same speech announcing the new compensation fund for prosecuted gay people, Zadić also urged citizens to take a stand against rising rates of violence and hatred aimed at the LGBTQ community in Austria and Europe. 

A Sweeping Apology

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Zadić has also gone online, to further elaborate on the decisions. “The prosecution of homosexual people was a dark chapter of the Second Republic (government post-1945) and a great injustice,” she posted.

“On behalf of the entire judiciary, I apologize for this injustice to all people who were prosecuted because of their sexual orientation.”

Deep Roots in a Dark Time

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As Zadić’s post suggests, these repealed provisional laws have deep roots in one of the darkest periods of modern history.

Under the annexation of Germany in the late 30s, gay people were one of the groups targeted alongside Jews and Romani.  

Germany Sets a Standard

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Austria legalized same-sex marriage in 2019.

This recent decision to compensate persecuted homosexuals followed in the steps of Germany, which also wiped the convictions of 50,000 gay men and offered compensation back in 2017.

The post Austria’s Landmark Decision – Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage and Compensating LGBTQ Victims of Past Laws first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Sabrina Bracher. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.