Scotland: First Minister's apology to gay men convicted of historical sexual offences a 'positive step'

Responding to news that Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, will formally apologise to gay men convicted of sexual offences that are no longer illegal, Kate Nevens, Amnesty International’s Scotland Programme Director, said:

“We welcome the First Minister's apology to all gay men convicted of now-abolished sexual offences, and the legislation which will grant an automatic pardon to those convicted under historical laws. Same-sex consensual acts should never have been criminalised in the first place, and imposing criminal penalties was highly discriminatory.

“Today’s positive step reminds us we still have a lot of work to do in Scotland, and throughout the UK, to realise full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. Same-sex marriage is still banned in Northern Ireland, despite an overwhelming majority of public opinion in favour of marriage equality.

“As we continue to remove barriers to true equality for LGBTI people, we will continue our global campaign for those who are persecuted, imprisoned, or killed for their sexuality or gender identity. Consensual same-sex relations are still illegal in 72 countries and punishable by death in eight, including Sudan, Iran, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, with a potential for death penalty in a further five countries.

“Transgender people across the world face harassment, abuse, and intimidation simply because of their gender identity. They are often forced to undergo gruelling psychiatric assessments or to have genital reassignment surgery, which results in permanent infertility, to change their legal gender – inhumane measures which are simply unacceptable.”

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