In respect of the story ‘Jim Allister: retrospective gay pardons may be illegal in Northern Ireland’ October 31:
Mr Allister claims that Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 makes this problematic.
This, in my view, is an absolutely ridiculous argument.
The amendments from Lord Lexden and Lord Cashman are written in such a way that they do not relate to the “sexual orientation” of a person convicted or cautioned.
Both the pardons and the disregard scheme will be available to any “person” who has been convicted or cautioned.
In respect of the main offences involved, that means: any person who has been convicted or cautioned for the offence of buggery (involving either opposite-sex or same-sex sexual acts); any person convicted or cautioned for the offence of gross indecency (this can only be same-sex acts because the offence only related to men).
The term “gay pardons” is therefore misleading because the pardons will extend to any “person” (man or woman) falling within the ambit of the old law.
There is no “discrimination” here!
Fortunately Jim Allister finds himself once again a lone voice in the wilderness.
Assent or silence from all others will suffice.
Richard Kennedy, Belfast BT9