As the gay community, The Stonewall Uprising is usually our go-to topic when discussing the gay rights movement. However, most may fail to remember that gay men and women were also targeted by Hitler’s Regime during a dark period in world history. I’m talking, of course, about The Holocaust and World War II. Although Germany was already fining and imprisoning the queer community well before the start of the war, experts believe that 10-15,000 queer people were sent to concentration camps and perished between 1933 and 1945. Obviously, due to fear of persecution during that time, the number is most likely even greater than that when factoring in men and women still in the closet.
A few years after Hitler lost the war, specifically 1949, Germany officially moved from a dictatorship back to a democracy. Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969 and in 2017 the country started legalizing same-sex marriages. Germany, as a whole, has tried to move away from its dark roots and especially used their history to teach others about human rights. In 2008, The Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism was built in Tiergarten, Berlin. The memorial even goes as far as to depict same-sex acts – just kissing, relax – in its courtyard. But, although the country has started to embrace gay people, there are a few who still choose to remain hateful.
This is the same lack of mindfulness and bad behavior that is seen worldwide.
On Saturday, August 12th, a 63-year-old man set fire to The Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism by throwing a burning object onto it. The arsonist, who was arrested at home on Tuesday, August 15th, also taped Bible verses to structures around the shrine. His August 12th blaze is now being linked to two previous arsons at tributes to Holocaust victims in general as well as lesbians. Given the Bible verses plastered around the crime scene, it’s a safe assumption that his crime was at least partially motivated by extreme religious beliefs.
The memorial, which was built in 2008, will need renovations and restoration. This is actually its second attack, the first being in 2019.
Claudia Roth, the German Minister of State for Culture, released a statement on Twitter:
We must stand together against enemies of democracy. Wherever we encounter hate and hate speech, we must not accept it in silence. ’Never again’ must not be just lip service.
René Mertens, a spokesperson for the Lesbian and Gay Association, also released a statement:
If people can no longer move freely in our country without fear of hostilities, that is a significant restriction of our freedom. The safety of LGBTIQ* is not a marginal issue, but a human rights obligation. This obligation must be honored.
The 63-year-old man’s name is currently being kept secret due to fear of repercussions. Gee, you don’t say. The dramatic irony is not lost on me – it’s almost like you could just keep yourself out of trouble by leaving everyone and everything alone.
One day, hopefully in the next century, our children can live in a world where these types of things do not happen. Until then, we continue the fight…
Source: NBC News