Sugden - Proposals to pardon convictions for abolished homosexual offences

Date published: 08 November 2016

Justice Minister Claire Sugden has secured Executive agreement to ask the Assembly to pass a Legislative Consent Motion (LCM) to include provisions in the Policing and Crime Bill for pardons for convictions relating to abolished homosexual offences.

Minister Claire Sugden said: “Pardon arrangements should be brought to Northern Ireland as soon as possible to ensure that there is equal treatment for gay and bisexual men here as for their counterparts in England and Wales.

“This is an opportunity for the criminal justice system to try and right the wrongs of the past and one which will allow for much earlier resolve than that presented by way of an Assembly Bill.”

The motion for legislative consent will now go forward for consideration by the Assembly. If passed, it is intended that the Policing and Crime Bill will provide the same pardon arrangements for Northern Ireland as for England and Wales.  The provisions will allow for pardons, both posthumously and for live cases, in respect of convictions for abolished homosexual offences involving consensual activity with persons over the age of consent.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Section 92 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 provides a power in England and Wales to disregard convictions and cautions for abolished homosexual offences, ie where the activity was consensual and the other party was over the age of 16.  In effect, a successful application would result in such details being disregarded from relevant official records.  Amendments tabled to the Bill and supported by the UK Government will mean that anyone who has their conviction or caution disregarded through these provisions will also be pardoned for the offence.  In addition the amendment will offer posthumous pardons for those with convictions or cautions for the same offences.
  2. All media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office 028 90526444.  Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.

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