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Pardon for gay men convicted under discriminatory laws

15 October 2019

Men prosecuted for same-sex sexual activity which is now entirely legal are able to apply to have their convictions erased under the Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) Act.

The legislation, previously passed by the Scottish Parliament, is now in force and grants an automatic pardon to every gay and bisexual man in Scotland convicted under discriminatory laws.
Men with such convictions can now also apply to have them removed from central criminal records under a ‘disregards’ scheme.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “There is no place for homophobia, ignorance and hatred in modern Scotland. “This landmark legislation provides an automatic pardon to men convicted of same-sex sexual activity, which is now entirely legal.

“We have been working closely with Police Scotland and other partners to ensure the ‘disregard’ scheme is clear and effective and has appropriate safeguards in place.

“This legislation makes good on the commitments made by the First Minister, who gave an unqualified apology for the now outdated and discriminatory laws, and for the harm they caused to many.”

Tim Hopkins, Director of the Equality Network, said: “This is a historic day for Scotland. For centuries, sexual relationships between men were criminalised. Criminal law on same-sex and mixed-sex relationships remained seriously discriminatory until as recently as 2001. Today, all those discriminatory convictions are pardoned.

“The purpose of this Act is to acknowledge the wrongfulness and discriminatory effect of past convictions for relationships between men. People living with those convictions on their record now have confirmation that they did nothing wrong – it was the law that was wrong – and the Government has apologised for that wrong.

“People can now fill in a form to have all records of their conviction deleted. For those who passed away before seeing this day, the pardon applies to them too and their suffering is also acknowledged.”
 

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