The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, has published a progress report from the Working Group to examine the ‘Disregard of Convictions for Certain Qualifying Offences Related to Consensual Sexual Activity between Men’.The working group was established in March 2021 and consists of representatives from the Department of Justice, An Garda Síochána, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC), the Office of the Attorney General and three members of the LGBTQ+ community with expertise in this area.Since its establishment, the Working Group has met on four occasions primarily tasked with examining the feasibility of identifying appropriate records which may support a decision to expunge or disregard a record of conviction for consensual same-sex acts between men prior to decriminalisation in 1993.In publishing the progress report, Minister McEntee said: “The Victorian-era laws which were repealed by the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993 caused immeasurable harm to generations of gay and bisexual men, criminalising and stigmatising them simply because of their sexual orientation.“I am very conscious that nearly 30 years later, the damage that was caused by these laws continues to impact negatively on too many people’s lives.
While this harm can never be fully undone, I am strongly committed to bringing to Government and publishing a scheme to disregard convictions for qualifying offences prior to decriminalisation in 1993.”She went on to thank the members of the Working Group for their work “in considering a range of complex issues relating to the development of such a scheme.” .
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