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This page discusses persecution and death perpetrated by the Nazis during the Holocaust. A symbol used to mark prisoners appears multiple times throughout the article. Reader discretion is advised.

Reclaimed as a positive symbol, the pink triangle now points upward.

The pink triangle has been a symbol for various LGBTQIA+ identities. Initially used as a badge of shame for "gay men" in the Nazi Germany of the 1930s and 40s,[1][2] it was revived in the 70s and 80s as a symbol of protest against homophobia and ever since reclaimed as a positive symbol of self-identity and pride by the larger LGBTQIA+ community.[1]


Nazi symbol

Nazi Germany used a downward-pointing pink triangle to identify gay men.

Before the use of the pink triangle, gay male prisoners in Nazi concentration camps were marked by a variety of symbols: a green triangle to identify gay criminals; a red triangle for gay political prisoners; the number "175" was used in reference to Paragraph 175 of the German penal code, which criminalized homosexual activity; or the letter "A", which stood for Arschficker and literally translates as "arse fucker".[3][4]

Afterward, the concentration camps started to require each prisoner to wear a downward-pointing, equilateral triangular cloth badge on their chest, the color of which identified the reason for their imprisonment.[5][6] The triangle was pink for anyone who was a gay man, bisexual man, or transgender woman, as well as a "sexual deviant", including zoophiles and pedophiles in addition to sex offenders. Those assigned a pink triangle were considered to be at the very bottom of the camp hierarchy.[1] Lesbians, bisexual women, and trans men were not systematically imprisoned, though when they were, some were classified as "asocial" and forced to wear a black triangle.[7]

Gay rights symbol

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Reclaimed as a positive symbol, the pink triangle now points upward.

In the 1980s, the symbol was reclaimed by members of the LGBTQIA+ community and took on a more militant tone.[8] The AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, formed by six gay activists in New York City in 1987, adopted an upward-pointing pink triangle on a black field along with the slogan "SILENCE = DEATH" as its logo.[1][9]

Monuments and memorials

The pink triangle has become a common symbol used in monuments commemorating the victims of anti-gay violence and those who died in the HIV/AIDS pandemic, as well as gay victims of the Holocaust. The first country to do so was the Netherlands, opening the Homomonument on September 5, 1987.[10][11]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Waxman, Olivia B.: "How the Nazi Regime's Pink Triangle Symbol Was Repurposed for LGBTQ Pride" (2018-05-31). Time. (Archived on December 16, 2021).
  2. Biedroń, Robert: "Nazism's Pink Hell". Memorial and museum - Auschwitz-Birkenau. (Archived on November 6, 2021).
  3. "Homosexuals in Nazi Germany". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (Archived on January 12, 2022).
  4. "Lesbians Under the Nazi Regime". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (Archived on January 12, 2022).
  5. "Homosexual Prisoners - The Era of the Holocaust". The Universities at Shady Grove. (Archived on January 12, 2022).
  6. Weber, Christiane: "Overview of inmate identification badges" (2018-07-31). Arolsen Archives. (Archived on January 12, 2022).
  7. Darling, Laura: "Queer Women and AFAB People During the Holocaust" (2016-04-22). Making Queer History. (Archived on January 12, 2022).
  8. Summers, Claude J.: "The Pink Triangle" (2016-04-22). Making Queer History. (Archived on October 25, 2014).
  9. "SILENCE = DEATH". Encyclopedia of AIDS. (Archived on September 7, 2009).
  10. Dunford, Martin. The Rough Guide to The Netherlands. Penguin, 2010. ISBN 9781848368828.
  11. "Homomonument - Geschiedenis". (Archived on January 12, 2022).