State Apology To Be Offered To Convicted Gay Men

A Louth Senator says that next year the state will offer an apology to Irish gay and bisexual men who were convicted of consensual same-sex acts before decriminalisation in 1993.

People marching at 1993 Dublin Pride

In a statement released at the weekend, Labour Senator Ged Nash said that, following several months of negotiations with the Department of Justice and Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan, an agreement had been secured “in principle” that an apology will be made to those who were convicted of same-sex offences before decriminalisation in 1993.

“Earlier this year, Senators unanimously supported a Labour Party initiative that called on the State to apologise to and fully exonerate gay men who were convicted of engaging in consensual same-sex sexual activity which is now legal,” said Nash.

“After several months of discussions with the Department of Justice and the Justice Minister’s office, I have secured an agreement in principle that an apology will be made to those who were criminalised simply for being who they were and who they are.”

Nash added that the state apology is set to coincide with the 25th anniversary of decriminalisation next year.

“Next year is the 25th anniversary of this significant landmark on the road to making Ireland a more equal and just country.

“An appropriate apology, made in both Houses of the Oireachtas with support from across the political spectrum by means of an All-Party motion would be a fitting way to mark this milestone event in our history.

“While this initiative represents an important reckoning with the past, we also acknowledge that nothing anyone can do or say now will ever fully make amends for the ways in which our laws and social attitudes cruelly marginalised and hurt gay citizens for decades.

“However, by apologising for what we as a country did in the past and accepting that it was wrong, we might go some way towards easing the pain that is still all too raw for many older LGBT citizens.

“It is absolutely fundamental that the LGBT community is fully involved in this process and I will continue to engage with NGOs on this long overdue apology and the form it should take.

“It is crucial that any all-party apology for convictions for same-sex activity which is now legal should fully acknowledge that the pre-1993 laws which made criminals of gay men were inherently discriminatory and unfair and that those laws caused severe hurt, pain, prejudice and isolation.

“Furthermore, I will insist that the opportunity is used to affirm Ireland’s commitment to strive to be a country where all LGBT and intersex citizens can and will achieve full equality.”

However, there will be no ‘Turing’s Law’ pardons for those who have been convicted of such offences, as there have been for those convicted of similar pre-decriminalisation offences in the UK.

The attorney-general and Department of Justice say this is because there is currently no system of disregarding convictions, reports The Times UK.

Same-sex sexual activity was decriminalised in Ireland 1993 following campaigns by (among others) Senator David Norris and the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform which led to a ruling in 1988 that Irish laws prohibiting male homosexual activities were in contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Consultations over the proposal are set to continue in the new year.

© 2017 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.