Sexual Offences Act 1967 Debate

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Department: Home Office

Sexual Offences Act 1967

Lord Cashman Excerpts
Tuesday 18th July 2017

(4 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, there are not many badgers in the House of Lords but one might see the odd mouse. My noble friend makes a very valid point. Northern Ireland might peer south to southern Ireland, which has just elected its first gay Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, the son of an Indian Immigrant. That is progress indeed. I join my noble friend in paying tribute to the late Lord Arran. Civil partnerships have been legal in Northern Ireland since 2004, but we encourage it to introduce equal marriage. There are currently two challenges to bans on same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. Ultimately, it is a devolved matter but we continue to encourage it.

Lord Cashman Portrait Lord Cashman (Lab)
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My Lords, I join with the words of my noble ally Lord Lexden. In continuing the process of righting wrongs, will the Government exercise the power contained in Section 166 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017 and, in so doing, add to the list of homosexual-related offences for which a living person can obtain disregards and pardons, most notably the grounds of solicitation by men and importuning and public order offences? That indeed would be a cause for great celebration.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I also pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, for the work that he did with me through the passage of that legislation. It was a very proud day indeed when the House of Lords made those things possible, although the other place may have received the accolades. The noble Lord is absolutely right that we need to look at other offences. However, it is also important that our consideration of them is robust as we do not want to create unintended consequences: that is, disregards for offences which would still be offences. There was a slight interruption with the general election although officials had started to engage with Stonewall. They have consulted the document that Professor Johnson kindly provided and they are again arranging meetings with Stonewall. I hope to update the noble Lord and the House in due course.