• 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."
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. 

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“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."

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