Minister publishes update on work to disregard historic convictions of gay and bisexual men

"The Victorian-era laws which were repealed by the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993 caused immeasurable harm to generations of gay and bisexual men."

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee who has just published a report on the disregard of convictions of gay and bisexual men. In the photograph, Minister McEntee is standing outdoors in front of microphones about to give a press conference.
Image: @HMcEntee via Twitter

The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, has published a progress report from the Working Group to examine the ‘Disregard of Convictions for Certain Qualifying Offences Related to Consensual Sexual Activity between Men’.

The working group was established in March 2021 and consists of representatives from the Department of Justice, An Garda Síochána, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC), the Office of the Attorney General and three members of the LGBTQ+ community with expertise in this area.

Since its establishment, the Working Group has met on four occasions primarily tasked with examining the feasibility of identifying appropriate records which may support a decision to expunge or disregard a record of conviction for consensual same-sex acts between men prior to decriminalisation in 1993.

In publishing the progress report, Minister McEntee said: “The Victorian-era laws which were repealed by the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993 caused immeasurable harm to generations of gay and bisexual men, criminalising and stigmatising them simply because of their sexual orientation.

“I am very conscious that nearly 30 years later, the damage that was caused by these laws continues to impact negatively on too many people’s lives. While this harm can never be fully undone, I am strongly committed to bringing to Government and publishing a scheme to disregard convictions for qualifying offences prior to decriminalisation in 1993.”

She went on to thank the members of the Working Group for their work “in considering a range of complex issues relating to the development of such a scheme.” 

The progress report highlights the work done to date and draws attention to the key issues which will be brought before a final round of targeted public consultations prior to the finalisation of the ‘disregard’ scheme.

The consultations which will launch in the coming weeks will allow representative organisations and affected people to share their lived experiences and inform the Group’s final deliberations.

Minister McEntee concluded, “I would encourage all those with an interest in this subject to read the progress report and to engage in the public consultation”.

The full report can be read here.

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