Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is to offer a full public apology to gay and bisexual men for historic discriminatory laws which banned same-sex activity.
The move is likely to come on 7th November, just as Scotland’s version of the so-called ‘Turing Law’ is published.
Equality campaigners have welcomed the announcement, which is estimated to have impacted thousands of lives, with hundreds of victims of the ‘homosexual offences laws’ still alive today.
Tim Hopkins, Director of the Equality Network, said:
“We welcome the imminent publication of this bill, and we particularly welcome the announcement today that the First Minister will apologise in the Parliament to all those who were convicted under these discriminatory laws. The apology is important because it shows that it was the laws that were wrong and not the consensual relationships that were made criminal by these laws.”
All sexual activity between men was a criminal offence in Scotland until very recently, when legislation finally came into effect in 1981. The age of consent at that time was 21, later reduced to 18 in 1994 and equalised to 16 in 2001. Consenting men were convicted for sexual acts such as kissing in public and even sexual activity in private, despite the same activity being legal between a man and a woman.
Same-sex relationships between women were never subject to the same discriminatory laws as men.
Scotland’s ‘Turing Law’, named after the WWII code-breaker Alan Turing who was criminalised for being gay, is due to be put before the Scottish Parliament in November. The law is expected to automatically pardon those men who have a criminal record due to laws which discriminated against them prior to 2001. It will remove any record of the matter from their record.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said:
“The bill will right a historic wrong and give justice to those who found themselves unjustly criminalised simply because of who they loved.”