Despite the Government in the Republic of Ireland apologising in 2018 to men who were convicted of consensual homosexual activity under now abolished laws, it has yet to exonerate those affected. Across the sea, on Tuesday January 4th, the UK Government announced a revised scheme that anyone convicted of consensual homosexual activity would be eligible for a pardon.
While people in England and Wales have been able to apply to have their convictions pardoned since 2012, not all ‘crimes’ were covered by the original scheme.
Speaking of the revised scheme, the UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, stated, “It is only right that where offences have been abolished, convictions for consensual activity between same-sex partners should be disregarded too.” Patel continued, “I hope that expanding the pardons and disregards scheme will go some way to righting the wrongs of the past…”
In Ireland, a working group given the task of examining how the Irish government can offer similar exonerations are due to hand in their progress report before the end of January. The final report will then be due in the latter half of the year, meaning that there may be a possibility that the hundreds of men convicted in Ireland could be exonerated.
A Department of Justice spokesperson described how the working group have “considered a range of complex issues relating to the development of any scheme to disregard the criminal convictions of men convicted for consensual same-sex sexual acts prior to decriminalisation in 1993.”
Adam Long, board member of the NXF, added in a statement to The Journal, “These laws ruined lives, absolutely ruined lives. The bare minimum at this stage that the State could do would be to try and undo some of that wrong by removing the convictions.”
Long continued, “The process should not be made too onerous, and we don’t want to re-traumatise people either, we should make it easy for them. If a person has a conviction for an activity that would not be illegal today, then it should be completely and utterly removed from their record.”
Long concluded, “The logical follow-on from the State apology would be exoneration. Let’s call it what it was: State-sanctioned homophobia. Nobody, literally nobody, in this day and age should have such homophobic convictions on their records today.”
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