New bill calls for apology to gay men once criminalised under Irish laws

Labour's Ged Nash is putting forward new laws in the Seanad today to overturn historic convictions

New bill calls for apology to gay men once criminalised under Irish laws

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Gay men convicted under sexual offence laws could soon be exonerated.

The Labour party is putting forward new laws in the Seanad today to overturn historic convictions.

Homosexuality was decriminalised in this country in 1993 - and Labour says that, more than two decades later, it is time those once found guilty receive an apology.

Last year Ireland became the first country in the world to introduce same sex marriage by popular vote.

Labour Senator Ged Nash says it is a shame we were not always as liberal.

Speaking to Jonathan Healy on The Pat Kenny Show today, Senator Nash said: "In essence this is an apology to gay men who were criminalised under Irish law for essentially being who they are and who they were. People convicted of offences that in fact no longer exist since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1993.

"We have a history of economic migration - people moving away from Ireland for better opportunities. But it would be very hard to quantify the number of people who left this country because they could not be who they were.

"How many doctors, nurses, teachers, artists, engineers, scientists did we lose in this country because of the climate of fear that was generated by having these laws on our statute books?"

Senator Nash also argued that an apology would send out a strong message.

"I think it is an important gesture, particularly to older members of the LGBT community, who hadn't lived in an Ireland that's as tolerant as the Ireland of today - a country that's prepared to, by popular vote, to endorse the right of people in same-sex relationships to marry," he told Jonathan.