Following the UK’s lead Ireland may be set to pardon gay and lesbian people who were convicted of homosexuality prior to its decriminalisation in 1993
Yesterday, the Labour party put forward new laws in the Seanad to pardon historic convictions of gay and lesbian people because of their sexuality and issue them with an apology.
Senators Ged Nash and Ivana Bacik launched a bill seeking to “address the historic wrong by the State.”
An apology to, and the exoneration of men convicted of the offence of being who they are & were is necessary. Hoping for cross-party support https://t.co/hWAddcbBsa
— Gerald Nash (@geraldnash) December 6, 2016
Nash spoke to Jonathan Healy on The Pat Kenny Show about what the laws would mean to homosexual people who had been convicted.
“In essence this is an apology to gay men who were criminalised under Irish law for essentially being who they are and who they were,” Nash said.
“People convicted of offences that in fact no longer exist since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1993.”
“We have a history of economic migration – people moving away from Ireland for better opportunities. But it would be very hard to quantify the number of people who left this country because they could not be who they were.”
“How many doctors, nurses, teachers, artists, engineers, scientists did we lose in this country because of the climate of fear that was generated by having these laws on our statute books?
“I think it is an important gesture, particularly to older members of the LGBT community, who hadn’t lived in and Ireland that’s as tolerant as the Ireland of today – a country that’s prepared to, by popular vote, to endorse the right of people in same-sex relationships to marry,” he said.
Ireland Has Come A Long Way
Speaking outside the Dáil yesterday, Nash explained that Enda Kenny, as the current Taoiseach, should apologise to those who would be exonerated.
“We’ve come a long way in the last twenty three years since homosexuality was decriminalised, but we still have a long way to go.”
“What we’re trying to do here is address an historic wrong that was committed through the State.”
Stating that the wrongs cannot be undone, Nash continued to declare that an apology would go a long way to making up for them.
“There are a considerable number of LGBT citizens who haven’t been able to live and love in the climate we have in Ireland today.”
This bill’s proposition comes shortly after the UK proposed a similar law, the Turing law, which would grant historical pardons for those who had been jailed or criminalised because of their sexuality.
GCN editor Brian Finnegan spoke with Marian Finucane about the intricacies of the UK’s pardon for those criminalised because of their sexuality.
“It’s not just about being gay, but a very large number of those people would have been convicted for having sex with other men, and often they were pursued or entrapped and that happened in Ireland too,” Finnegan said.
© 2016 GCN (Gay Community News Ireland). All rights reserved.