With CSD and KCSD coming up (June 27), glitter and gaiety will be out on the streets in full force, but Berlin has always been ahead of the queer curve. Here’s a timeline of the LGBTQ rights movement in gay ol’ Berlin.
1871: Paragraph 175, which criminalises homosexual acts between men, is adopted by the Reichstag.
1896: Adolf Brand publishes Der Eigene, the world’s first gay magazine. Dedicated to “masculine culture”, it runs until 1932, when the Nazis shut it down.
1897: Sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld founds the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, an early gay rights organisation, to research homosexuality and advocate the repeal of Paragraph 175.
1922: The first-ever gay rights demonstration is held on Nollendorfplatz (photo), marking Berlin as a gay hub for the rest of the 1920s.
1929: A Reichstag committee proposes to remove paragraph 175 from the penal code. But the Nazis’ rise to power prevents the law from ever being passed.
1931: Leontine Sagan’s Girls in Uniform, one of the first positive portrayals of lesbians in film, debuts in Berlin.
1935: Two years after burning down Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sex Research, the Nazis step up their persecution of homosexuals, expanding Paragraph 175 to include “lewd acts” and sending offenders to concentration camps, where they are forced to wear pink triangles. A total of 15,000 gays are killed by the Nazis.
1945: The survivors are liberated from the camps, but some are sent back to prison to carry out the rest of their sentences.
1968-69: Homosexual acts are decriminalised, first in East and then in West Germany. The age of consent is set to 21 (compared to 14 for heterosexual sex).
1971: Activist organisation Homosexuelle Aktion West Berlin is founded outside Kino Arsenal after a screening of Rosa von Praunheim’s It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives, marking the beginning of a new gay rights movement in Germany.
1977: Schwuz (Schwulen Zentrum), Berlin’s first alternative gay club, opens its doors.
1979: The first German Christopher Street Day celebration takes place in Berlin, to be supplemented in 1998 by alternative festival TCSD.
1984: Gay city magazine Siegessäule makes its debut. In 1996, it expands to include lesbians and transgender content.
1985: The Schwules Museum opens in Kreuzberg.
1990: Popular soap opera Lindenstraße shows the first-ever gay kiss on German television, causing a media firestorm.
1994: Paragraph 175 is officially removed from German law, equalising the gay and straight ages of consent.
2001: Germany passes legislation granting same-sex couples most marital rights under a legally recognised civil union.
2008: A memorial to the homosexual victims of the Nazis is erected in the Tiergarten.
June 2013: The Federal Constitutional Court rules that same-sex couples in civil unions could receive the same tax benefits as married couples, though not the right to jointly adopt children
November 2013: Germany grants parents the option to register their intersex infants as a “third gender”.
*Text by Olivia Swarthout