Sturgeon Apologises to Scottish LGBT+ Community

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon apologised for the convictions of homosexual relationships and introduced new bill.

The bill framed to pardon cis (confirming with the assigned gender at birth) and transgender males for the criminalisation of their sexual relationships until the 1980s, was published on November 7th.

Relationships between gay or bisexual men and transgender people assigned male at birth were illegal under Scottish law until 1981. The age of consent for relationships between men was only equalised in 2001. Until then sexual activity between men was only legal for 21-year-olds and older, while homosexual activity between women and heterosexual activity, was legal from age 16.

The apology made in Parliament on Tuesday 7th November came along with a new legislation introduced to pardon all those convicted under the law.

Sophie Bridger, Campaigns Policy and Research Manager for Stonewall Scotland, was thankful for the First Minister’s recent decision to apologise to gay and bi men convicted of historic offences.

She said: ”This will bring a lot of comfort to those who were prosecuted under these unjust laws, and help draw a line, once and for all, under a dark period in our history.“

Conversely, Leo Siebert, President of Strathclyde LGBT+ society, was more hesitant on the importance of the bill.

He said: “Generally I’d say the opinion of the society is that this is a well overdue bill – but also as a student body there are far more pressing issues to deal with.”

The Equality Network estimates that the pardon will affect thousands of people including several hundred men who are still alive today.

The LGBTI charity have spoken out in favour of both the apology and the bill.

The director of the Equality Network, Tim Hopkins, said: “The apology is important because it shows that it was the discriminatory laws that were wrong, and not the consensual relationships that were made criminal by those laws.”

Hopkins continued: “It will be a hugely important statement that Scotland regrets the discrimination of the past, and now considers its LGBTI people to be fully equal citizens who deserve equal respect.

It will also be of direct practical importance to people who currently have one of these convictions show up on criminal record checks for jobs or volunteer posts.”

By Jack Henderson