Louth Senator Gerald Nash confident State apology on way for gay men who were criminalised
Louth Labour Senator Ged Nash said that he is confident that a formal State apology will be made to gay men who were convicted of consensual same-sex acts before the 1993 decriminalisation of homosexuality.
In a statement released today, Senator Nash said he we wants to see the apology made in both Houses of Oireachtas next year as a fitting and appropriate way to mark the 25th anniversary of the 1993 decriminalisation Act.
Senator Nash had this to say:
"Earlier this year, Senators unanimously supported a Labour Party initiative that called on the State to apologise to and fully exonerate gay men who were convicted of engaging in consensual same-sex sexual activity which is now legal.
"After several months of discussions with the Department of Justice and the Justice Minister's office, I have secured an agreement in principle that an apology will be made to those who were criminalised simply for being who they were and who they are.
"At the insistence of the Labour Party back in 1993, Ireland decriminalised homosexuality.
"Next year is the 25th anniversary of this significant landmark on the road to making Ireland a more equal and just country.
"An appropriate apology, made in both Houses of the Oireachtas with support from across the political spectrum by means of an All-Party motion would be a fitting way to mark this milestone event in our history.
"The Labour Party will propose such an All-Party motion.
"The government, through the Department of Justice has committed to continuing its engagement with Labour on our proposals in the New Year.
"While this initiative represents an important reckoning with the past, we also acknowledge that nothing anyone can do or say now will ever fully make amends for the ways in which our laws and social attitudes cruelly marginalised and hurt gay citizens for decades.
"However, by apologising for what we as a country did in the past and accepting that it was wrong, we might go some way towards easing the pain that is still all too raw for many older LGBT citizens.
"It is absolutely fundamental that the LGBT community is fully involved in this process and I will continue to engage with NGOs on this long overdue apology and the form it should take.
"It is crucial that any all-party apology for convictions for same-sex activity which is now legal should fully acknowledge that the pre-1993 laws which made criminals of gay men were inherently discriminatory and unfair and that those laws caused severe hurt, pain, prejudice and isolation.
"Furthermore, I will insist that the opportunity is used to affirm Ireland’s commitment to strive to be a country where all LGBT and intersex citizens can and will achieve full equality."