By: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer
It’s official, the first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, is set to officially apologize on behalf of the Scottish government to gay men who were convicted of the state’s now-abolished sexual offences pertaining to homosexual sex.
Nicola Sturgeon will make the apology at Holyrood on Nov. 7 to coincide with new legislation that will give an automatic pardon to those who were charged and convicted.
The legislation was a campaign promise by First Minister Sturgeon when she presented her program for government back in September. The new law will also allow the removal of all arrests and convictions from criminal records.
A spokesperson for the Scottish government said…”Ms Sturgeon would apologize to those convicted prior to 2001 under discriminatory laws against same-sex sexual activity that is now legal. The apology will be made on behalf of the Scottish government for the treatment of homosexual men under previous governments and will coincide with the introduction of legislation to provide people convicted under these laws an automatic pardon. The bill will right a historic wrong and give justice to those who found themselves unjustly criminalized simply because of who they loved.” said the spokesperson.
The historic legislation was first confirmed by Scotland’s Justice Secretary Michael Matheson back in October of 2016.
Matheson announced plans for the automatic pardons only a few days after similar legislation was scuppered at Westminster.
Under Scotland’s ‘Policing and Crime Act’, gay and bisexual men who were convicted of now-abolished sexual offences in England and Wales received posthumous pardons. Those who are living can be pardoned after the secretary of state agrees the conduct is no longer criminal.
Tim Hopkins, director of the Equality Network and LGBTI Activist, added: “The apology is important because it shows that it was the discriminatory laws that were wrong, and not the consensual relationships that were made criminal by those laws. We look forward to seeing the detail of the bill. If it implements the policy announced by the Scottish government, it will be a hugely important statement that Scotland regrets the discrimination of the past, and now considers its LGBTI people to be fully equal citizens who deserve equal respect. It will also be of direct practical importance to people who currently have one of these convictions show up on criminal record checks for jobs or volunteer posts.” said Hopkins.
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