First Minister must commit to pardons

I have written to the First Minister to ask whether she will commit to quashing historic convictions for gay and bisexual men in Scotland convicted of now abolished sexual offences.

The letter comes after I called for the Scottish Government to follow the UK Government in paving the way for pardons was met with the response that Scottish ministers will ‘consider carefully whether similar legislation could be brought forward in Scotland.'

Last week, the UK Government confirmed it would accept a Liberal Democrat amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill that will grant posthumous pardons to those convicted over consensual same-sex relationships in England and Wales. Men still alive will be eligible for a statutory pardon through the disregard process, clearing their name and criminal record. 

Writing to the First Minister, I said:

"At the UK Parliament, the aspiration to pardon gay and bisexual men convicted of now abolished sexual offences is a shared one. Members from across the chamber voiced their support at Westminster last week. SNP and after SNP member stood up to speak in favour of this outcome, with John Nicolson MP highlighting the need to ‘bring closure to those men who have had to thole monstrous, unfair criminal convictions for decades’ and provide ‘belated justice and the knowledge that society has acknowledged that a great wrong was committed against them’. I firmly believe that this view is shared at Holyrood too.

"I was therefore surprised that this weekend, in response to my call that the Scottish Government follow suit and legislate, reports indicate that a spokesperson was designated to state that it ‘will consider carefully whether similar legislation could be brought forward in Scotland’.

"By whatever means this is achieved, be it an LCM, dedicated legislation or as part of a wider bill, I would urge the Scottish Government to at least put on record an unequivocal commitment to abolishing this archaic injustice.

"While the technicalities of how exactly this would be achieved would be for the Parliament to agree upon, it is surely inconceivable that action would not be taken to pardon all those who have suffered north of the border. 

"Will you confirm that you will take the necessary steps to ensure that these historic convictions can be quashed in what would be an important next step towards eliminating prejudice and discrimination?"

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