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Criminal love?

4. July 2024 18:30

The division of Germany after the Second World War also meant very different ways of dealing with gay and lesbian desire on the part of the state. The pioneer of legal decriminalization was formally the GDR, which provided for less stringent legal regulations from the outset and completely decriminalized homosexual acts in 1989. In the FRG, the Bundestag did not remove paragraph 175 from the penal code until 1994. However, everyday life in the GDR was still characterized by a strong taboo and social ostracism of homosexual lifestyles. At the same time, the GDR, unlike the FRG, also recognized the existence of female same-sex sexuality and criminalized lesbian as well as gay desire from the end of the 1960s. Opportunities to engage in homopolitical activities were also much more restricted in the GDR than in the FRG.

The complex history of the legal status of queer people came together with reunification. Until the complete abolition of Paragraph 175 in 1994, there was the paradoxical situation of the same act being punishable differently depending on the part of the country in which it took place. The history of the criminalization and decriminalization of homosexual love in the two German states is still barely remembered in its complexity and little attention is paid to the East German experience in particular. The two historical processes, the associated realities of life and their clash after the fall of the Wall have not yet been dealt with.

The event aims to trace this complex history, discuss its effects and ask what can be learned from it for today’s queer activism.


Location: Berlin State Center for Political Education, Ostkreuz Visitor Center, Revaler Straße 29, 10245 Berlin

Admission: free

Panel: Dr. Teresa Tammer, Deputy State Commissioner for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship, Saxony, Prof. Dr. Michael Schwartz, Institute for Contemporary History Munich-Berlin, and Detlef Mücke, AG Gay Teachers GEW Berlin

Moderation: Melike Çınar (Berlin State Center for Political Education) and Heiner Schulze (Gay Museum)


A cooperation with the Berlin State Center for Political Education

Graphic: mino Künze