Ireland apologizes to gay men for past persecution

The Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar has endorsed a formal apology to all gay men who suffered as a result of laws criminalizing homosexuality. His justice minister, Charles Flanagan, made the apology in the national parliament.

The ban on homosexual practice was repealed in 1993.

Varadkar, himself a gay man, spoke in the national parliament, the Dáil, on June 19, The Irish Times reports. Former Irish president Mary McAleese told the newspaper: “The overwhelming public endorsement of same-sex marriage in 2015 showcased an open and inclusive Ireland now grown deeply respectful of gay citizens whom it once so miserably oppressed.”

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Veteran Senator David Norris, a leader of the campaign to rescind the anti-homosexual laws, told Newstalk radio: “It’s nice, but it’s just a form of words.” The senator also spoke of the “reign of terror” endured by gay people for much of the 20th century. Between 1940 and 1978 an average of 13 men were jailed every year in Ireland for homosexual offences (Irish Mirror).

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