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October date set for applications to remove same-sex convictions

17 June 2019

Men prosecuted for same-sex sexual activity which is now entirely legal will be able to apply to have their convictions erased from 15 October, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf confirmed that date, subject to parliamentary approval, for the coming into force of the Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) (Scotland) Act 2018, which grants an automatic pardon to every man in Scotland criminalised for breaching homophobic laws which have now been repealed. Only men were affected by the former criminal offences.

Following preparatory work with police and other justice agencies, regulations have now been laid which MSPs will be asked to scrutinise and approve.

Mr Yousaf commented: “We have been working with Police Scotland and other partners to ensure we have a clear and effective system in place as we bring this important legislation into force.

“Subject to Parliament approving the necessary secondary legislation, in October the Act will enable people convicted of these offences to apply to have them disregarded so they will never show up on any form of disclosure or criminal records check.

“And it will provide an automatic pardon to all men convicted of same-sex sexual activity that is quite rightly now legal.

Tim Hopkins, Director of the Equality Network, said: “The damage done by Scotland’s homophobic past can never be undone, but the wrong has now been recognised and acknowledged.

“Those who have such convictions on their record will also be able to apply to have them removed, and that will go some way to relieve a burden and stigma that they have carried for decades.”

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