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Sturgeon apologises to gay men for historic convictions

The First Minister has published plans to pardon those found guilty of now abolished crimes.

The First Minister has formally apologised to gay men convicted of now abolished crimes.

Nicola Sturgeon offered the apology while she set out plans for a new law at Holyrood to pardon them of the historic convictions.

The legislation will also enable the men to apply for their convictions to be removed from central criminal conviction records.

The Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) Bill has widespread support among MSPs and is expected to pass through the legislative stages with relative ease.

In her statement to MSPs, Sturgeon said: "Today as First Minister I categorically, unequivocally and wholeheartedly apologise for those laws and for the hurt and the harm that they caused to so many.

"Nothing that this parliament does can erase those injustices, but I do hope this apology, alongside our new legislation, can provide some comfort to those who endured those injustices

"And I hope that it provides evidence of this parliament's determination in so far as we can to address the harm that was done."

Private homosexual acts between men aged over 21 were decriminalised in Scotland in 1980 but those with convictions under the abolished laws remained.

The age of consent for homosexual acts remained higher than heterosexual acts until 2001, when all consent was equalised across the spectrum to the age of 16.

Tim Hopkins, director of the Equality Network, said: "This very welcome bill will be of direct importance to hundreds of people with past criminal convictions for the kinds of relationships that were perfectly legal for their heterosexual friends.

"More widely, it is a clear statement that Scotland considers the discrimination of the past to be wrong and unacceptable, and now understands LGBTI people to be equal citizens who deserve equal respect."

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