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SNP politician claims pardons for gay sex convictions ‘like apologising for Roman occupation’

Nick Duffy June 7, 2018
Nicola Sturgeon, John Mason and Alex Salmond

Nicola Sturgeon, John Mason and Alex Salmond are pictured in 2008 (ED Jones/AFP/Getty)

A politician has criticised the passage of a gay pardons law in Scotland – claiming it is like apologising for the Roman occupation of Britain.

Scotland this week followed England, Wales and Northern Ireland in passing a law allowing men who were convicted under historical anti-gay laws in the country to receive a formal pardon.

However the legislation – which applies to the living and posthumously to people who are no longer living – has come in for criticism from a Scottish National Party politician.

Member of the Scottish Parliament John Mason criticised the decision in a letter to a constituent, saying: “I’m not really sure I agree with retrospective pardons and apologies.

“I do not see that we can go round pardoning and apologising for everything that other people did that does not conform to modern customs.

“Will the Italians be apologising for the Roman occupation?”

Gay sex carried the death penalty in Scotland until 1889, when the penalty was lowered to life imprisonment.

Homosexuality was only part-decriminalised in Scotland in 1981, and fully decriminalised in 2001.

The comments led to fury from Scottish Green Party co-convenor Patrick Harvie, who is bisexual.

Harvie said: “Where to begin with this? Is it the flippant tone, is it the complete absence of any attempt to show understanding of the arguments in favour of this Bill, or the reference to ancient history?

“This is not ancient history. This is living history.

“Many of the people whose lives were subject to untold harm by their own government are still living and they do not deserved to be dismissed in this way.”

Patrick Harvie

He added: “I’m not naive enough to think that John Mason is the only MSP who holds such views and I can only single him out on this issue because I happened to be sent this email.”

Mason has long has controversial views about LGBT rights.

He was previously accused of attempting to derail the country’s same-sex marriage legislation in 2014 by tabling a series of last-minute amendments.

His amendments sought to give immunity from discrimination laws to people who ‘object’ to gay people marrying.

Mason said in 2013: “When it comes to sexual behaviour or activity, that’s when some of the religions do have something to say, as to whether you can have one or more partners, of the same sex or not of the same sex and that sort of thing.

“I would draw a distinction personally, and a lot of the churches would draw a distinction between sexual orientation and sexual activity.”

 

More: Gay, Law, lgb, LGBT, pardons, Scotland, scottish national party, SNP

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