Pardon for gay and bisexual men

Bill passed to right the wrongs of historical convictions.

Gay and bisexual men in Scotland will receive automatic pardons for historical convictions for homosexuality.

Under the Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) Bill, passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament, men will also have convictions of same-sex sexual activity that is now legal removed from central criminal conviction records.

Last year, the First Minister issued unqualified apologies to those convicted of same-sex sexual activity that is now legal. Justice Secretary Michael Matheson, who brought the legislation to Parliament, said:

“This marks a key moment where we address a historic wrong, where the law criminalised people simply because of their sexual orientation. This bill can itself not right the massive injustice caused by laws that helped foster homophobia and hatred, criminalised acts between consenting adults, and stopped people from being themselves around their families, friends, neighbours and colleagues.

“But this legislation does send a clear message that these laws were unjust. The wrong has been committed by the state, not by the individuals—the wrong has been done to them.

“Scotland has come a long way in a relatively short period of time in progressing towards LGBTI equality, but we know there is more to do. This bill stands alongside the Scottish Government’s on-going work to tackle bullying, prejudice and discrimination and provide protections against bigotry and hatred.”

Tim Hopkins, Director of the Equality Network, said:

“We very much welcome the Parliament passing this bill unanimously. This is concrete recognition of the huge harm that was done to people who were prosecuted or lived under these old laws. Together with the First Minister’s apology, the message is that Scotland has changed for good, and that discrimination is no longer acceptable.

“But LGBTI people continue to face prejudice and hostility, and there is much more to do. We look forward to continuing to work with the Scottish Government, on the forthcoming reform of the Gender Recognition Act, and other work to address homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, and to promote fairness for all.”


Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) Bill

First Minister Statement on Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) (Scotland) Bill


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