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German police have secret 'gay database'

Someone in Bavaria (and other German states) is smoking crack. Tracking gays in a secret database is not only bad PR, but it’s ominous, despite whatever doubtful benign motivations there might be (uh, pink triangles, anyone?). And tagging them by subcategories, such as by sex practices (!?). This is out of control.

German LGBT groups are expressing outrage over reports that police in three German states are keeping secret computer files on gays. Der Spiegel reports that the names of gays who have been in any way involved in the legal system – either as suspects, victims or witesses – are being gathered on the database.

The three states are identified as Bavaria, Thuringia, and North Rhine-Westphalia. Both Bavaria and Thuringia are ruled by conservative governments. North Rhine-Westphalia is governed by a center-left coalition of Social Democrats and Greens. By entering “omosex” German for homosexual, police can call up all data files on cases in which gays have been involved. The database also reportedly allows for subcategories to be entered – such as groups, meeting places, or types of sex such as S&M.;

Gay groups have denounced the database is intrusive. A member of the federal parliament goes further. Volker Beck, who often speaks out on subjects of concern to the LGBT community says it conjures up memories of the country’s Nazi past. “[It] brings up unpleasant memories of old police practices such as the keeping of ‘pink lists,'” Volker said in a letter to the interior ministers of the three states.

The “pink lists” were kept by the Nazis of all suspected gays and used to persecute them. The Nazis required “sexual deviants” to wear the pink triangle.

…It is not known how long the police departments in the three states have been collecting information on gays. The association of German gay and lesbian police officers, VelsPol, says it suspects that the practice of collecting names and information gays is more widespread than in just the three states named by Der Spiegel. Bettina Skol, in charge of the protection of personal data in North Rhine-Westphalia describes the practice as “highly dubious”.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding