15/06/2018

Motion For Official Apology To Gay Men Approved

The government has backed a Labour Party motion apologising to men who were convicted of engaging in consensual same-sex sexual acts prior to the decriminalisation of homosexuality in June 1993.

The historic motion will be debated in the Dáil & Seanad next Tuesday evening, in advance of the 25th anniversary of decriminalisation on the 24th June 2018.

The motion, which arises from Senator Ged Nash's 'Convictions for Certain Sexual Offences (Apology and Exoneration) Bill 2016' , has been agreed with the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice & Equality, and it is hoped that it will receive the support of all members of both Houses.

Senator Nash said: "This historic motion represents an important reckoning with our past. The State inherited draconian laws we applied over many decades to persecute and prosecute gay men merely for being who they were. It took until 1993 for Irish law makers to show the moral courage to banish these cruel, antiquated and inhumane laws from our statute books.

"Apart altogether from those who were convicted of offences that no longer exist, the chilling effect of having such harsh and discriminatory laws in place had a negative impact on progress towards equality for the LGBTI community.

"Incalculable harm and hurt was caused to countless thousands of citizens of this Republic who were deterred by those laws from being open and honest about their identity with themselves, their family and with society. This prevented citizens from engaging fully in civic and political life and deprived society of their full contribution. They were badly wronged by this country, and they and their families are owed an apology.

"I look forward to this powerful statement being made in both Houses of the Oireachtas next Tuesday and I am hopeful that support will be garnered from across the political spectrum.

"The Labour Party is continuing to work with government to identify ways in which convictions received by men for engaging in sexual activities which are no longer offences can be set aside or disregarded in a legally secure manner.

"As a country, we have made very significant progress on LGBT rights in recent years. However, we still have some way to go before we achieve full equality for LGBTI citizens in Ireland.

"This motion also represents an opportunity for the Oireachtas to unite to affirm that Ireland should be a country where all LGBTI citizens are free to fully express their identities without fear, prejudice or discrimination and that we put global LGBTI rights at the very centre of our foreign policy."

(MH)

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