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Austria Allocates Millions to Support Persecuted LGBTQ+ Community

Updated: Nov 16

Austria has allocated millions of euros to provide compensation for thousands of gay individuals who, until just two decades ago, faced persecution. According to the country's justice minister, although homosexuality was decriminalized in 1971, certain discriminatory provisions remained in effect until the early 2000s. Male homosexual prostitution was prohibited until 1989, while heterosexual prostitution was legal. Additionally, the age of consent for same-sex relationships was set higher than for heterosexual relationships until 2002.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Justice Minister Alma Zadić, flanked by two LGBTQ+ flags, declared that approximately 11,000 people are eligible for compensation, with a total of €33m (£29m) earmarked for payouts. Zadić emphasized that while this financial compensation can never fully rectify the suffering and injustice endured, it signifies the country's long-overdue acknowledgment and acceptance of this historical chapter.

Under this new law, individuals who were investigated under the now-abolished legislation will receive €500, and their previous convictions will be overturned. Meanwhile, those who were convicted will be eligible for €3,000, with additional compensation awarded to those who faced imprisonment, physical or mental health issues, economic setbacks, or professional repercussions. A ministry spokesperson informed AFP that the legislation, which will come into effect in February of next year, is expected to pass through parliament in the current year. It will require individuals to come forward and claim their compensation.

Zadić, who has previously offered apologies for the past prosecution of gay men and women, also urged people to unite against the increasing hatred and violence endured by the LGBTQ+ community. Austria is following in the footsteps of Germany, which, in 2017, voted to invalidate the convictions of 50,000 gay men sentenced under a Nazi-era law and provided compensation. It is important to note that during Austria's annexation by Nazi Germany in 1938, not only Jews but also gay individuals and other targeted groups suffered persecution.

Same-sex marriage has been legally recognized in Austria since 2019, and studies indicate that public opinion in Austria overwhelmingly supports equal treatment for same-sex couples.


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