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Irish Parliament Apologizes to Previously Convicted Gays

(Blogmensgo, gay blog of June 26, 2018) Ireland's Minister for Justice and Equal Opportunities, Charlie Flanagan, has formally apologized to the Oireachtas (National Parliament) for the way the Irish judiciary once sanctioned consensual gay sex amongst adults. His apology to the LGBT community occurred on 19 June 2018, 25 years after the decriminalization of same-sex relationships (24 June 1993). The minister said this in a speech in which he presented a parliamentary motion by Labour Senator Ged Nash. The text of this amendment recognizes the damage caused by the criminalisation of consensual gay sex between adults and apologizes for it. Charlie Flanagan stressed that he and the government strongly support such a request.

As Minister for Justice and Equality, I extend a sincere apology to all of those people, to their family, and to their friends. To any person who felt the hurt and isolation created by those laws, and particularly to those who were criminally convicted by the existence of such laws.
Charlie Flanagan

The Sexual Offences Act of 1993 repealed parts of the Criminal Code introduced by the laws of 1861 and 1885. Charlie Flanagan publicly confirmed the irreversible damage caused by these homophobic laws before their final repeal. Minister Flanagan reiterated the government's support for gays and their marginalized families, but did not mention any financial compensation.

The opening debate on the parliamentary motion took place in the presence of a personality greatly appreciated by the Irish LGBT community: Senator David Norris, a tireless advocate of LGBT equality.

David Norris

David Norris and LGBT activists in the Senate before the debate on the parliamentary motion. ©senatordavidnorris.ie

After the ministerial speech, Senator Gerry Horkan, deputy chair of the session, gave a taste of dry humor and empathy:

I am supposed to not allow applause but it has been done now. I am not going to worry too much about it.

The whole debate can be found here (from 2:29:50). Alternatively, please click here

The current Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar came out on 18 January 2015, four months before the referendum on gay marriage. He also declared his support for the parliamentary motion and apologized on behalf of his government.

By coincidence, two days after the parliamentary debate, the ten-day celebrations of Gay Pride Dublin began. Its main parade has been announced for June 30, 2018.

Almost simultaneously, the new play “A Day in May” by Irish playwright Colin Murphy celebrates its world premiere: The event will take place on 24 and 25 June 2018 in the Olympic Theatre.

Poster: A Day in May

Advertising poster for A Day in May. ©olympia.ie

The setting of Colin Murphy’s play is in May 2015, shortly before the referendum on the legalization of gay marriage in Ireland. This “drama documentary” based on a book by Charlie Bird tells several true stories of those affected against the background of the forthcoming referendum. The proceeds from the play will be donated to the Pieta House association as part of a joint program with BeLonG To LGBT+ Youth Service. This program helps young people to restore their self-esteem and fight their suicidal thoughts.

Frank-S / MensGo

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