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Gay men apology praised by equality groups

This news post is over 6 years old

Move is an important step on the road to equality

Equality campaigners have hailed a decision by the Scottish Government to apologise to gay men for now abolished sexual offences.

Nicola Sturgeon will make the apology on 7 November as new legislation is enacted to give an automatic pardon to those affected.

The law will allow the removal of such crimes from criminal records.

Tim Hopkins, director of the Equality Network, said the apology is important because it shows that the law was wrong and not individuals.

He said: “Men were prosecuted for activity with another man that would have been legal then between a man and a woman, and that is legal today between two men.

“This included consensual sexual activity in private, and acts such as kissing another man in a public place.”

The bill to be introduced on 7 November is expected to give a formal pardon for these discriminatory convictions where the activity would not be a crime today.

The pardon is expected to apply both posthumously to people who are no longer living, and to those who are living.

It will also enable people who have such a conviction on their records to have it removed, so that it no longer shows up on criminal record checks.

Hopkins added: “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.”

The Equality Network estimates that the total number of these historical discriminatory convictions in Scotland runs into thousands, and that there are hundreds of men alive today with such convictions on their records.

Sex between women was never criminalised in this way in Scotland, and the same rules applied to it as applied for sex between a man and a woman.