Patrick Costello TD, Green Party Justice spokesperson, was speaking today following the launch of a public consultation into the disregarding of historical convictions for homosexual activities.
He began, “This is a really positive move and something I greatly welcome. Earlier this year I commissioned a research paper on similar schemes put in place in other jurisdictions to see how we could learn from best practice. As a member of the Justice Committee, it is something I am keen to see quickly progressed through the legislative process.”
“The Free State that came into existence in 1922 was one which was dogmatically Catholic. Anyone who fell outside that narrow prism was victim to a state led campaign of persecution. We are finally starting to address that shameful legacy through legislation around the Magdalene Laundries and Mother and Baby Homes. For the LGBTQ+ community this is a really positive step.”
Reflecting on the change in social attitudes he continued, “Irish people today are rightly proud of our 2015 referendum on marriage equality. We must remember however this was the culmination of a long campaign by activists to secure equal rights. It was only in 1993 that homosexuality was decriminalised in this jurisdiction. Prior to that point thousands of individuals were arrested and convicted of consensual acts between adults. Many of these individuals are still alive and deserve to no longer be branded as convicted criminals.”
Concluding he remarked on the benefits of the process, “This consultation and the resulting legislation will, I believe, enable a wider open and honest conversation about our history. This is one which will be difficult but one which will be of benefit to us all, not least the LGBTQ+ community which were persecuted for so long”.
Consultation: gov.ie – Public Consultation on key issues related to the Disregard of Convictions for Certain Qualifying Offences related to Consensual Sexual Activity between Men (www.gov.ie)