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Historical injustice

New bill will 'exonerate and apologise to' people convicted of homosexual acts

Senator Ged Nash called the move “an important gesture”.

TWO NEW BILLS put forward by the Labour Party will aim to exonerate and apologise to people convicted of homosexual acts for “simply being who they are”.

The move will be welcomed by the LGBT community, according to Labour senator Ged Nash.

The first bill will offer LGBT persons an apology for criminalising them, as well as reversing the convictions of those found guilty.

The second will address the situation where gay and lesbian couples who were not legally able to marry before a certain age, and ensure that they can no longer be blocked from receiving normal pension rights.

Homosexuality was decriminalised in Ireland in 1993. Laws dating back to the 19th century had rendered homosexual acts illegal. Little more than a generation after decriminalisation, Ireland became the first country to make same-sex marriage legal via popular vote.

“It is an important gesture,” Nash said. “There are a considerable number of LGBT persons that didn’t have the chance to live and love in the climate that we have in Ireland today.”

Nash said that the bill will ensure that historical convictions are overturned, while senator Ivana Bacik added that it would be a “practical, as well as symbolic” gesture to the community.

Labour believes that the exoneration would apply to a few thousand people. “Many are still alive, but some sadly are not,” Nash said.

Nash added that older LGBT people, in particular, should be provided supports as many would have grown up in a society very different to the one young LGBT people live in now. He said:

It’s about that environment created, and the hostility and derision that LGBT people were treated with in this country.

“We need to have a discussion and a dialogue about better services and better supports for older LGBT persons who haven’t had the same happy experience that younger LGBT people have had in the last few years.

Our society has changed in recent years. People’s views have changed. We’re on a journey here. And this is a milestone on that journey.

Labour is “anxious” to secure all party support for this legislation.

Read: ‘Disgraceful and partisan’: Mattie McGrath hits out as Tesco removes pro-life group’s charity appeal

Read: Ireland’s only gay football team welcomes RTÉ doc on homophobia in the sport

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