State to apologise to gay men convicted before decriminalisation of homosexuality

The Dáil will acknowledge the laws were "contrary to human dignity"

State to apologise to gay men convicted before decriminalisation of homosexuality

File photo of the Dáil chamber

The Government will apologise to gay people who were convicted because of their sexuality before decriminalisation.

An all-party motion will acknowledge the hurt and harm the law prior to 1993 caused to gay people, their family and friends.

The Dáil will acknowledge that the laws repealed "were improperly discriminatory, contrary to human dignity and an infringement of personal privacy and autonomy; caused multiple harms to those directly and indirectly affected, namely men who engaged in consensual same-sex activities and their families and friends" and "had a significant chilling effect on progress towards equality for the LGBTI community, acknowledging in particular the legacy of HIV/AIDS within the context of criminalisation".

It will also further acknowledge hurt and the harm caused to those who were deterred by those laws from being open and honest about their identity with their family and in society - and that this "prevented citizens from engaging in civil and political life and deprived society of their full contribution".

The motion was proposed by Labour Senator Ged Nash.

Senator Nash said: "This historic motion represents an important reckoning with our past.

"The State inherited draconian laws we applied over many decades to persecute and prosecute gay men merely for being who they were.

"It took until 1993 for Irish law makers to show the moral courage to banish these cruel, antiquated and inhumane laws from our statute books.

"Apart altogether from those who were convicted of offences that no longer exist, the chilling effect of having such harsh and discriminatory laws in place had a negative impact on progress towards equality for the LGBTI community.

"Incalculable harm and hurt was caused to countless thousands of citizens of this Republic who were deterred by those laws from being open and honest about their identity with themselves, their family and with society.

"This prevented citizens from engaging fully in civic and political life and deprived society of their full contribution. They were badly wronged by this country, and they and their families are owed an apology.

"I look forward to this powerful statement being made in both Houses of the Oireachtas... and I am hopeful that support will be garnered from across the political spectrum."

Senator Nash said this is also an opportunity for the Oireachtas to affirm that Ireland should be a country where all LGBTI citizens "are free to fully express their identities without fear, prejudice or discrimination".

He added that global LGBTI rights should be "at the very centre of our foreign policy."

The apology comes ahead of a Government reception in Dublin Castle next weekend, to mark the 25th anniversary of decriminalisation.