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Convicted Gays in Scotland: Pardon and Apologies

(Blogmensgo, gay blog of November 7, 2017) Today (November 7, 2017), the Scottish government has introduced legislation to pardon gays convicted in the past. Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon formally apologized in the name of the Scottish government to all the gay and bisexual men convicted in the past for homosexual acts. As opposed to Germany, no financial compensation is planned. On January 31, 2017, a similar law came into effect in England and Wales. Incidentally, there was news today saying that Aberdeen will host its first Gay Pride festival in the summer of 2018.

Update: The Prime Minister officially apologized on November 7, and the bill was presented to the parliament. It will therefore still take some time before the new law will come into effect. More details at the end of this article.

Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon: The Prime Minister apologizes in the name of the Scottish government. ©SG

The new law is planned to automatically apply to historic cases although every person concerned will have to ask for a relevant conviction to be erased from his criminal record. No financial compensation is planned for gay and bisexual men convicted for consensual same-sex contacts.

With this bill, Scotland is less generous than Germany (where a financial compensation was proposed) but steps ahead of England (where Theresa May has not apologized in the name of the government).

In Scotland, consensual sex between adult men was only legalized in 1980, i.e. 13 years after England and Wales. In all three countries, the age of majority for same-sex contacts was 21 for many years before the same majority age of 16 was set for homo- and heterosexual acts in 2001.

Currently, we have no specific information about the new bill nor about the number of men concerned but we may update the article as needed in the future.

We also heard today that Aberdeen, the third largest city in Scotland, will host its first Gay Pride festival in the summer of 2018.

Together with the city administration, the local LGBT groups Four Pillars and Grampian Regional Equalities Council (Grec) will organize the future Gay Pride festivities, which will certainly want to measure up with Scotland’s other big cities Glasgow and Edinburgh.

This video offers a nice overview of Aberdeen:

If Gay Pride is only half as nice as this promotional video, then let’s all go to Aberdeen!

[Here our update of November 9, 2017]

Nicola Sturgeon's official apology is remarkable in more than one way: Firstly, she has made them in a formal and solemn speech in the Scottish parliament (from 14:12:55 to 14:20:15 in the following video), but she also apologized in the name of a government that she has never been a member of.

 

Most of all, however, Nicola Sturgeon found very nice and fitting words – here a small extract:

Today as first minister I categorically, unequivocally and wholeheartedly apologise for those laws and for the hurt and the harm that they caused to so many.
Nicola Sturgeon, Prime Minister of Scotland, on November 7, 2017

These are strong and sincere words, along with a request to the Scottish parliament to right the wrongs done in the past.

Sturgeon's speech and the subsequent debate have already done one thing in any case: The have moved and shaken up the public, as we can see at the two men present in the audience.

Implementing a bill in Scotland requires three phases and therefore usually take several months (unless in case of accelerated legislation projects). The announcement of the bill in the parliament is just the first of these three steps, which means the new law will only come into effect in a few months time.

Frank-S / MensGo

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