Ulster Unionist MP Danny Kinahan, and Councillor Jeffrey Dudgeon, have jointly written on Thursday 27 October to the Secretary of State for Justice calling on the UK Government to introduce, or support, amendments to the Policing and Crime Bill in order to extend posthumous pardons for gay and bisexual men convicted of gross indecency in Northern Ireland, prior to homosexuality being de-criminalised.
The letter reads:
Dear Secretary of State,
We welcome the recent announcement by the Government that it plans to give its support to an amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill, proposed by Lord Sharkey, which would posthumously pardon thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted under gross indecency laws, before homosexuality was de-criminalised. It is vital to stress that the men who were convicted under these unfair laws, would be innocent of any crime today. At its core this is an issue of fairness.
We note that the amendment will apply to England and Wales and that the Scottish Government has announced that it will bring forward its own proposals to deal with this issue.
We believe that the most efficient way of ensuring that the legislation extends to Northern Ireland is for the UK Government to bring forward or support pragmatic amendments to the Policing and Crime Bill, such as those proposed by Lord Lexden. This would then enable the Northern Ireland Assembly to give its approval via a Legislative Consent Motion.
We would therefore call on the Government to support, or bring forward their own amendments to the Policing and Crime Bill.
This is about fairness, not a moral question. A recognition, albeit after the event, that these men were criminalised and suffered. This is an opportunity to right that wrong.
Danny Kinahan MP and Councillor Jeffrey Dudgeon