Proposal to disregard historic convictions of gay and bi men to go out to consultation

Proposal to disregard historic convictions of gay and bi men to go out to consultation

Helen McEntee

Plans to introduce a disregard scheme for the historic convictions of gay and bisexual men prior to the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1993 will go out to consultation in the coming weeks.

A working group made up of government officials, gardaí, human rights experts and LGBT+ community representatives has completed a progress report setting out proposed next steps for the initiative.

Among the group’s interim recommendations is that there should be a disregard scheme rather than an expungement scheme under which records would be destroyed, as this would remove evidence of the historic injustice and frustrate the work of researchers and historians in the future.

Responding to the report, justice minister Helen McEntee said: “The Victorian-era laws which were repealed by the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993 caused immeasurable harm to generations of gay and bisexual men, criminalising and stigmatising them simply because of their sexual orientation.

“I am very conscious that nearly 30 years later, the damage that was caused by these laws continues to impact negatively on too many people’s lives. While this harm can never be fully undone, I am strongly committed to bringing to government and publishing a scheme to disregard convictions for qualifying offences prior to decriminalisation in 1993.

“I would like to thank the members of the working group for the important work which they are doing in considering a range of complex issues relating to the development of such a scheme.

I have decided to publish this progress report in order to highlight the good progress made to date and to draw attention to the key issues identified which both the group and I believe would benefit from a final round of targeted public consultation prior to finalisation of our proposals.

“”I would encourage all those with an interest in this subject to read the progress report and to engage in the public consultation, which will launch in the coming weeks.”

Under the government’s Justice Plan 2022, the final report of the working group is scheduled for submission to the minister by the end of Q3 2022, subject to the conclusion and outcome of the consultation process.

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