Plan to disregard historic convictions of gay and bi men out for consultation

Plan to disregard historic convictions of gay and bi men out for consultation

Helen McEntee

Plans to disregard historic convictions related to consensual sexual activity between men have been put out to consultation.

Affected persons and representative organisations have been invited to provide input to inform the final recommendations of a working group which is examining the development of a scheme to disregard convictions predating the decriminalisation of same-sex activity in 1993.

The consultation comes somewhat behind schedule — under the government’s Justice Plan 2022, the final report of the working group was scheduled for submission to the minister by the end of Q3 2022.

Justice minister Helen McEntee said: “We want to ensure that any potential scheme is as effective and accessible as possible so that we can exonerate those impacted by these outdated laws and address some of the lingering harms of the past.

“I would encourage any of the affected men, their families, loved ones and the wider LGBTQ+ community to engage with this consultation so that we can be mindful of their unique perspectives as we move forward.”

The consultation survey consists of seven questions concerning how a potential scheme could be made more accessible, how to encourage participation in the scheme and how to minimise potential for re-traumatising applicants, amongst other issues.

The deadline for completion of the survey is 5pm on Friday 9 December 2022.

Following the close of the consultation, the working group will prepare a summary report which will give an overview of the submissions received, identifying key themes that will inform the group’s final recommendations.

Mrs McEntee added: “The damage that was caused by these laws continues to impact negatively on too many people’s lives. While we cannot undo the hurt inflicted on people who were discriminated against for simply being themselves, we can contribute to the healing process.

“Both the programme for government and my justice plans commit to putting in place a scheme to disregard the convictions of people convicted of consensual same-sex activity prior to decriminalisation.

“This consultation is another important step on that journey towards meeting those commitments, and to addressing the individual harm that was done to generations of gay and bisexual men, while also showing that we are willing to re-visit and confront uncomfortable aspects of our past.”

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