“It seems to me that this will have to be on a case-by-case basis and because of this it’s somewhat painstaking, going back over the records.”
The government has announced that it intends to clear the criminal records of men who were convicted of consensual same-sex activity before the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1993.
A preliminary figure of approximately 150 Irish men who were arrested and convicted between 1944 and 1993 has been retrieved from An Garda Siochána’s PULSE system.
Minister Charlie Flanagan’s announcement comes on foot of an apology last month by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to the men who were convicted under the law.
Minister Flanagan said each case would be examined on an individual basis in a process that would be similar to the 2017 pardoning scheme in England and Wales, which saw the criminal records of thousands of gay men overturned in 2017.
“It seems to me that this will have to be on a case-by-case basis and because of this it’s somewhat painstaking, going back over the records,” the Minister said.
He added that “some of the records going back over the decades are scant”.
Minister Flanagan has called on Gardaí to review individual case files and report on their availability and quality within three months.
An average of 13 men per year were jailed in Ireland for same-sex offences between 1940 and 1978.
Speaking after the final cabinet meeting before the Dáil goes into summer recess, Mr Flanagan said he had discussed the issue with the Attorney General and that they were “working progressively” towards the legislation necessary to expunge the criminal records.
“I want it done,” he said, adding that he expects to have a further report on the issue in September.
Ireland decriminalised homosexuality in June 1993, following a 16-year-old legal battle by Senator David Norris (pictured above) against Ireland’s anti-gay laws.
© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.