DUP to '˜examine' gay men pardon
The DUP has said it will 'examine any proposal' for gay and bisexual men convicted of now-abolished sexual offences in Northern Ireland to receive posthumous pardons.
The UK government announced this week as amendment to the law in England and Wales, which will see deceased people who were convicted of sexual acts that are no longer deemed criminal receive an automatic pardon.
It follows the pardoning of World War Two code-breaker Alan Turing for gross indecency in 2013.
However, the move will not apply to Northern Ireland, as it is a devolved matter.
A spokesman for the DUP said the party “recognises the historical hurt that such convictions impose on many gay and bisexual men”.
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He added: “DUP MPs supported the campaign in Parliament to grant a pardon to Alan Turing. The party will examine any proposal to offer such pardons locally within Northern Ireland.”
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Claire Sugden has been urged to bring the legislation in the Province in line with that of England and Wales.
Ulster Unionist Councillor Jeff Dudgeon said an extension of the pardon to NI would bring “justice and fairness” to those gay and bisexual men “who suffered for decades”.
He added: “The Northern Ireland Office must ensure that this goes into the Policing and Crime Bill and that a Legislative Consent Motion is sought from the Assembly.”
Describing the measure in England and Wales as “a welcome start to redressing this wrong”, Sinn Féin MLA Sean Lynch added: “I will be contacting the Justice Minister to see the rights and entitlement of our LGBT community are upheld.”
Acting Alliance leader Naomi Long also hopes the reforms will be replicated locally, adding: “I have tabled an urgent question to the Justice Minister, as well as writing to UK Government Minister Sam Gyimah and Secretary of State James Brokenshire, to ask how they will ensure the pardon of those convicted when homosexuality was illegal will be extended here.”
SDLP Alex Attwood MLA said it was “unacceptable” that NI continued to “lag behind” when it comes to LGBT rights.
“The prosecution of predominantly men for engaging in consensual same-sex relationships was wrong,” he added. “The British state has recognised this and have sought to address it. We must now do the same.”
A Department of Justice spokesperson said: “The Minister will consider this issue when forming policy priorities for the legislative programme in the current mandate.”