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Gay men to be offered pardons in Northern Ireland

Jasmine Andersson June 28, 2018
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BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - AUGUST 1: A man draped in a rainbow flag watches as religious protestors demonstrate against homosexuality while thousands of participants and supporters take part in the 25th annual Belfast Pride parade on August 1, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Same-sex marriage whilst legal in the United Kingdom is still not recognised in Northern Ireland despite repeated votes on the issue. The governing Northern Ireland Executive has stated that it does not intend to introduce legislation allowing for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Gay men will be offered pardons in Northern Ireland from today.

The law, which was approved by the Assembly in 2016, has now come into effect.

In order to avail themselves of the pardon, gay and bi men have to apply to the Ministry of Justice.

This will strike all gay offence convictions from the person’s record.

The Northern Irish Assembly (Getty)
The Northern Irish Assembly (Getty)

Posthumous pardons will automatically apply to anyone convicted of offences who have since died, reported the BBC.

Gay and bi men have been pardoned in England and Wales since 2017.

Lord Sharkey fought for the pardon from the UK government.

 

Lord Sharkey alongside Alan Turing, who was pardoned in 2013
Lord Sharkey alongside Alan Turing, who was pardoned in 2013

“Thousands of those men are still alive, and under the terms of the Protection of Freedoms Act, they can all now apply to have their convictions disregarded,” he wrote in a piece for PinkNews.

This will provide real comfort for them, their families, their relatives and their loved ones and will help to put right a little a serious historical injustice.

As one campaigner has noted, “we don’t need a pardon, we need an apology.”

George Montague, who was convicted of gross indecency with a man in 1974, lobbied for an apology from the UK government.

 

George Montague at the PinkNews Parliamentary Summer Reception (Chris Jepson)

He said he was “over the moon” to receive an official apology in 2017.

“The wording is so wonderful and so explicit. An ‘abject apology’ from the Government,” he told the BBC’s World at One programme.

Lesbian sexual relations were never criminalised in the UK.

 

Comedian Rhona Cameron and political activist Peter Tatchell help to hold a banner at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride event, London, 4th July 1998 (Steve Eason/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Although myth would have it that Queen Victoria said that “women would never do such a thing” when she was consulted on male homosexual acts being made illegal in 1885, it was neither mentioned by the government or the Queen in the consultations.

PinkNews will meet with all of Northern Ireland’s major party leaders at its Summer Reception event on Thursday.

The likes of Michelle O’Neill and Arlene Foster will gather to discuss LGBT+ rights and issues.

Related topics: gay pardon, Northern Ireland, PinkNews Summer Reception, summer reception

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