Scotland to pardon gay men with historical convictions

Thousands of gay men in Scotland prosecuted for having sex will be automatically pardoned in a new bill that will also allow many to get previous convictions removed from their records.

The bill will pardon men who were convicted under Scotland’s anti-gay legislation, which remained on the statute book until 1981, 14 years after homosexuality was decriminalised in England and Wales.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, published the bill at Holyrood on Tuesday and offered an unqualified apology to those stigmatised and humiliated by the prosecutions.

She said full equality for gay and bisexual men only came into law in Scotland as late as 2001, when the age of consent was finally lowered to 16, the same age as for heterosexuals, two years after the first elections to the devolved parliament.

“Within the lifetime of this parliament, this nation’s laws created suffering and perpetrated injustice,” Sturgeon told MSPs. “The legislation we have published today addresses this injustice.”

She added: “Until we live in a world where no young person faces hate, fear and prejudice simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, we still have work to do.” Holyrood and her government were “utterly committed” to full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

The exact number of men affected by the pardon is unclear but it is estimated between 50 and 100 men were prosecuted every year in Scotland during the century in which gay sex, specifically gross indecency, was a criminal offence. Read more via the Guardian