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MSPs take ‘important final step’ towards gay pardons

New laws will allow gay men to be pardoned over historical convictions for same-sex sexual activity.

Holyrood: 'Important final step' for gay pardons.
Holyrood: 'Important final step' for gay pardons.

Holyrood has passed new regulations ahead of laws which will allow gay men to be pardoned if they have historical convictions for same-sex sexual activity.

MSPs on the Equalities and Human Rights Committee approved the regulations setting out the different means by which disregarded convictions can be removed from official records.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said the move was “an important final step” in implementing legislation that Holyrood passed last year, to grant an automatic pardon to every man in Scotland criminalised for breaching now repealed discriminatory laws.

Private same-sex activity between two men over the age of 21 was illegal in Scotland until 1981 and the age of consent for gay men was reduced to 16 in 2001.

Mr Yousaf told the committee: “A disregarded conviction can be removed either by deleting the record, redacting that part of the record which relates to the disregarded conviction, or annotating the record so as to make clear that the conviction has been disregarded and it should never be disclosed in response to a request for information about a person’s convictions.”

He added: “The removal of disregarded convictions is an important practical measure to address the discriminatory effect that these convictions can potentially continue to have on a person’s day-to-day life by ensuring they cannot be prejudiced in future by their disclosure.”

Men will be able to apply to have their convictions wiped when the Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) (Scotland) Act 2018 comes into force on October 15.


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