• EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 11: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. (Russell Cheyne - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
"Those laws criminalised the act of loving another adult... by sending a message from parliament that homosexuality was wrong, they encouraged rather than deterred homophobia and hate."
By
Chloe Sargeant

8 Nov 2017 - 2:41 PM  UPDATED 8 Nov 2017 - 2:41 PM

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has today formally apologised to gay and bisexual Scottish men who were convicted under historical laws against homosexuality.

In Scottish Parliament, the first minister called the historic laws against homosexual sexual activity "unjust", and said she found it "shocking" that the laws were active in Scotland so recently. 

"Before then, hundreds of people in Scotland were liable to be convicted as criminals, simply for loving another adult," she said.

"Those laws criminalised the act of loving another adult; they deterred people from being honest about their identity to family, friends, neighbours and colleagues; and by sending a message from parliament that homosexuality was wrong, they encouraged rather than deterred homophobia and hate.

"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."

As Sturgeon delivered the formal apology in Parliament, citizens sitting in the public gallery became visibly emotional. 

NZ parliament formally apologises for historic gay convictions
“While we cannot ever erase the injustice, this apology is a symbolic but an important act that we hope will help address the harm, and right this historic role."

Sturgeon's apology aligns with new legislation, which results in the automatic pardoning of those who were convicted (both living and dead), as well as the removal of these convictions from criminal records. 

"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."

Derek Ogg, a QC who has campaigned for gay rights for decades, told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme that it was a "wonderful day".

He added: "It's Scotland at peace with itself and it is a reconciliation between the people in Scotland who are alive and the families of gay people who are dead, who were prosecuted, convicted, simply because of the gender of the person they loved or fancied. You can't underestimate the scars that leaves on people."

RECOMMENDED:
The UK's "oldest gay in the village" receives a government apology
The 93-year-old says it is "the most wonderful thing" to happen to him in his life.
Historic apology for Victoria's gay community
For years, gay and bisexual men have had to live with records of historic convictions for homosexuality. On Tuesday, Victoria became the first state to formally apologise.
Mardi Gras 78ers welcome NSW government apology
The NSW government has apologised to the members of the group of gay and lesbian people who marched in protest of homosexual criminalisation in 1978.
Why an apology for Mardi Gras '78 is long overdue
One of the participants of the original Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras protest march of 1978 discusses why Thursday's apology by the NSW Parliament is long overdue.