Ireland following UK’s footsteps on gay and bisexual pardons

Senator Gerald Nash
Senator Gerald Nash

A bill to pardon gay and bisexual men convicted in Ireland of now abolished sexual offences cleared a major parliamentary hurdle in the Seanad yesterday.

Senator Gerald Nash’s Convictions for Certain Sexual Offences (Apology and Exoneration) Bill mirrors similar legislation that has taken effect in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

It passed the second stage in the Seanad yesterday after the Government agreed not to oppose the bill.

Minister David Stanton, speaking for the Department of Justice, did outline concerns over provisions of the bill which could see an “apology and exoneration” extended to persons who were convicted of non-consensual same-sex sexual acts.

Mr Stanton also said there was a “difficult question of legal theory” around whether the bill can grant an apology and exoneration to those convicted prior to the creation of Saorstát Éireann.

But he told senators: “Despite the concerns expressed, the Government does not, of course, oppose the principle of this Bill.

“These issues are raised simply to highlight the areas which the Government believes require further consideration if the Bill is to achieve its purpose and not have unintended consequences.

“I am sure that the Senators sponsoring the Bill will reflect on these issues and consider how best they might be dealt with as the Bill progresses.”