Convictions of deceased gay and bi men to be eligible for disregard under scheme

Convictions of deceased gay and bi men to be eligible for disregard under scheme

Hundreds of convictions for consensual sexual activity between men will be eligible for a disregard under the proposed new statutory scheme — including where the parties involved are now deceased.

The final report of the working group set up by ministers to make recommendations on the scheme notes that the “total number of men prosecuted and convicted for consensual sexual activity and affection with other men is unknown”.

However, it says “indicative numbers” suggest it is “likely that several hundred men were prosecuted and convicted” during the period of criminalisation that was brought to an end in 1993.

Among the 95 recommendations in the 129-page report is that applications for disregard should be allowed to be brought on behalf of deceased persons, for example by former partners or family members.

The comparable pardon and disregard schemes introduced in the jurisdictions of England and Wales and Scotland do not allow for applications to be made on behalf of a deceased person, the report notes — but these are international outliers.

Commenting on the publication of the report, justice minister Helen McEntee said: “I want to thank the working group for carrying out the detailed and thorough work necessary to complete this report.

“I also want to thank all those who contributed to the public consultation, I know that the input provided through the consultation was invaluable in shaping the final recommendations for a number of key issues in this report.

“Both the programme for government and my Department’s Justice Plan commit to putting a disregard scheme in place. I now look forward to considering the report’s recommendations with a view to progressing the introduction of a statutory scheme.”

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