Is retrospective expunging of criminal records after decriminalisation appropriate?

Disillusioned democrat

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As I said in another thread I watched our Taoiseach offer a high profile apology to the LGBT community for a law that changed 25 years ago with an ambivalent "meh!"

There was a whiff of virtue signaling to it - it was a generation ago. Last night at a dinner to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality Varadkar claimed that the state was going to expunge the records of anyone charged with the crime...eh??

Having thought about it a bit longer, though, I'm not as "meh" about it any more.

It was the law of the land at the time, albeit a different time and some people chose to break the law and others decided not to.

The writing is on the wall for decriminalizing the use of hard drugs - does that make it okay for someone who truly believes the law is wrong to take hard drugs and assume that 25 years from now they'll get an apology and a clean record.

Some people believe sex with minors is okay and may convince themselves that like homosexuality, the criminalization of pedophilia is just around the corner, so continue on their merry way.

It's been said many times that many wrong-doings cannot be punished because the wrong-doing was not a crime at the time and that you can't make laws retrospectively, so I'm not convinced that any government has the right to change the law retrospectively just because it suits today's narrative.

What do others think?
 


The OD

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As I said in another thread I watched our Taoiseach offer a high profile apology to the LGBT community for a law that changed 25 years ago with an ambivalent "meh!"

There was a whiff of virtue signaling to it - it was a generation ago. Last night at a dinner to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality Varadkar claimed that the state was going to expunge the records of anyone charged with the crime...eh??

Having thought about it a bit longer, though, I'm not as "meh" about it any more.

It was the law of the land at the time, albeit a different time and some people chose to break the law and others decided not to.

The writing is on the wall for decriminalizing the use of hard drugs - does that make it okay for someone who truly believes the law is wrong to take hard drugs and assume that 25 years from now they'll get an apology and a clean record.

Some people believe sex with minors is okay and may convince themselves that like homosexuality, the criminalization of pedophilia is just around the corner, so continue on their merry way.

It's been said many times that many wrong-doings cannot be punished because the wrong-doing was not a crime at the time and that you can't make laws retrospectively, so I'm not convinced that any government has the right to change the law retrospectively just because it suits today's narrative.

What do others think?
Nobody believes that because it will never happen. There is a very good reason why sex with minors is outlawed and will remain that way and it has absolutely nothing to do with homosexuality.
 

McTell

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What next, the Pilate family will up and say that jesus was "innocent".


"Our ancestor was running judea at the time, and everyone thought he was doing a grand job, and then he had to sentence this trouble-maker who was annoying the locals, and of course it had to be crucifixion. But had we known that this yehosha bar-josef fella would make such a name for himself, the decision would have gone the other way, and we would have made the unpopular decision to pardon him. This might have caused a few violent riots, but it's always best, isn't it, to Do The Right Thing".
 

The OD

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What next, the Pilate family will up and say that jesus was "innocent".


"Our ancestor was running judea at the time, and everyone thought he was doing a grand job, and then he had to sentence this trouble-maker who was annoying the locals, and of course it had to be crucifixion. But had we known that this yehosha bar-josef fella would make such a name for himself, the decision would have gone the other way, and we would have made the unpopular decision to pardon him. This might have caused a few violent riots, but it's always best, isn't it, to Do The Right Thing".
He was though, wasn't he? He never made claim to an Earthly Kingdom so under Roman law at the time he most likely would have been found innocent on appeal?

Perhaps Constantine, having the power, would have posthumously pardoned him? Seems likely?
 

Sync

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FG/FF politician saves children from drowning.

DD starts a thread on “is it REALLY right that a politician can just decide when to jump into state water?”
 

Dame_Enda

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I would support this plus a redress scheme for those prosecuted by this law (especially those forced to have electro-convulsive therapy.

The exact numbers may never be known because in 1968 an Irish Times journalist said there was an unwritten understanding with the authorities to limit reporting of these trials.

A secondary affect of criminalisation is the harm done to peoples ability to find employment. I read last night of a case where someone lost their job. There was a mass trial in the 1960s of 20 men for "gross indecency" (I think in Leixlip), which was the law under which gay men were prosecuted. Lesbianism was not illegal.

A tertiary affect of the laws were generations of homophobic bullying in schools, which unfortunately still happens. It doesnt help that because of the continued protection for the "ethos" of religious schools, teachers may not be able to protect pupils from this and if they do, risk being fired.
 
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Golden Phoenix

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What do others think?
I think it's great.

Nowadays we live in more enlightened times thankfully. It was very wrong to criminalise men for their natural sexuality. Gay people got a rough time in this country.

Imagine if straight sex had been illegal? How would you feel about that?
 

Disillusioned democrat

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FG/FF politician saves children from drowning.

DD starts a thread on “is it REALLY right that a politician can just decide when to jump into state water?”
Except the thread was asking something completely different, but you know that.

We hear all the time that we can't make retrospective laws, so it seems a little bizarre that we can decide old laws shouldn't have applied.

How do we feel about the homosexual who obeyed the law at personal expense - is his/her commitment to law and order now to be ridiculed?
 

Disillusioned democrat

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Nobody believes that because it will never happen. There is a very good reason why sex with minors is outlawed and will remain that way and it has absolutely nothing to do with homosexuality.
I'd say 25+ years ago many would have said "there is a very good reason why homosexual sex is outlawed and will remain that way"...it's impossible to state what will/won't happen in the future.
 

Roll_On

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As I said in another thread I watched our Taoiseach offer a high profile apology to the LGBT community for a law that changed 25 years ago with an ambivalent "meh!"

There was a whiff of virtue signaling to it - it was a generation ago. Last night at a dinner to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality Varadkar claimed that the state was going to expunge the records of anyone charged with the crime...eh??

Having thought about it a bit longer, though, I'm not as "meh" about it any more.

It was the law of the land at the time, albeit a different time and some people chose to break the law and others decided not to.

The writing is on the wall for decriminalizing the use of hard drugs - does that make it okay for someone who truly believes the law is wrong to take hard drugs and assume that 25 years from now they'll get an apology and a clean record.

Some people believe sex with minors is okay and may convince themselves that like homosexuality, the criminalization of pedophilia is just around the corner, so continue on their merry way.

It's been said many times that many wrong-doings cannot be punished because the wrong-doing was not a crime at the time and that you can't make laws retrospectively, so I'm not convinced that any government has the right to change the law retrospectively just because it suits today's narrative.

What do others think?
Legal persecution of people for being gay was equally as wrong then as it is now. Drawing parallels to hard drug use is a complete non-runner, personal relationships were criminalized. Yes the state owes those people an apology just as much as they owe the people they crammed into forced labour camps an apology.
 

Roll_On

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Except the thread was asking something completely different, but you know that.

We hear all the time that we can't make retrospective laws, so it seems a little bizarre that we can decide old laws shouldn't have applied.

How do we feel about the homosexual who obeyed the law at personal expense - is his/her commitment to law and order now to be ridiculed?
You have a simplistic view of the world if you just revert to 'it was the law at the time'. If it were 1943 in Nazi occupied Europe, would you go and squeal on a gay couple living in secret? after all it was the law at the time in fact you not squealing would also make a crim out of you.

It was probably someone like yourself who called the gardaí on a friend of my father's who checked into a hotel with another man in the early 1980s and managed to ruin his future employment and living arrangements. All because, well it's the law isn't it.
 

Disillusioned democrat

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You have a simplistic view of the world if you just revert to 'it was the law at the time'. If it were 1943 in Nazi occupied Europe, would you go and squeal on a gay couple living in secret? after all it was the law at the time in fact you not squealing would also make a crim out of you.

It was probably someone like yourself who called the gardaí on a friend of my father's who checked into a hotel with another man in the early 1980s and managed to ruin his future employment and living arrangements. All because, well it's the law isn't it.
You're implying that somehow Ireland was less democratic up to 25 years ago, but realistically this is really nothing to do with homosexuality and all to do with the law.

Indeed, the law is supposed to be simple and simply interpreted, and it's the grey areas we hide in that causes much of this country's problems, but that's another thought.

Germany 1943 wasn't a functioning democracy, Ireland in 1970 was, supposedly. People shouldn't get to chose which laws they believe in IMHO.
 

Golden Phoenix

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People shouldn't get to chose which laws they believe in IMHO.
People shouldn't think for themselves? Question discriminatory laws? Imprisoning gay men is not something this country can be proud of.

And the "law" was inherited from Victorian Britain.
 

Sync

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Except the thread was asking something completely different, but you know that.
Not really. You’re a deeply unhappy person who can’t see the merit in any action taken by anyone.

We hear all the time that we can't make retrospective laws, so it seems a little bizarre that we can decide old laws shouldn't have applied.
It’s not bizarre at all. They’re 2 unrelated things.

How do we feel about the homosexual who obeyed the law at personal expense - is his/her commitment to law and order now to be ridiculed?
No, it’s to be sympathised with that the state was so preoccupied with people’s orientation that they had to live in fear of who they really were. I think someone suggesting the state doesn’t take steps to recognise past wrongs is to be ridiculed.
 

livingstone

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Of course not all people prosecuted for crimes which have been decriminalised should have their records expunged. The fundamental question is why is there a change in the law - is it because there are just sound policy arguments for a change, or is it because the law is fundamentally unjust.

If it's just about policy reasons, then there is no reason to expunge records, apologise etc. For example, let's say a country has a speed limit of 90mph, based on best available evidence about safety. But new research shows that travelling at 100mph is actually safer than at 80mph, or new technology means faster car travel is tolerable within existing risk appetites. Those convicted for driving above 90mph weren't being unfairly treated, and the fact that the law later changes doesn't justify expunging their records etc.

On the other hand, if the criminalisation was always unreasonable and unjust (no matter how democratically determined), then it is right to reflect that that criminalisation was wrong, hurt people's lives and to act appropriately.
 

Roll_On

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You're implying that somehow Ireland was less democratic up to 25 years ago
I never implied any such thing.

Indeed, the law is supposed to be simple and simply interpreted, and it's the grey areas we hide in that causes much of this country's problems, but that's another thought.
The grey area allows people to use their own moral compass. It's wrong to lock a guy up and electrocute him in the balls because he likes fellas. It was wrong then, regardless of what the law said.

Germany 1943 wasn't a functioning democracy, Ireland in 1970 was, supposedly. People shouldn't get to chose which laws they believe in IMHO.
Hitler was elected. Weather or not there was functioning democracy doesn't change anything. There was functioning democracy in Ireland when women were put into forced labour camps for little more than being female and poor. I believe there's some balance in the world, the bint who ruined my dad's friend's life because it was 'the law' has probably since died roaring, and deservedly so.
 

Golden Phoenix

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It sounds like the OP thinks all gay men should have waited until 1993 before they had sex :confused:
 

Roll_On

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It's a alarming that the OP links democracy to justice in such a manner. As if to say if the people voted for it, then it's moral, in Ireland's case regarding male homosexuality nobody voted for it, it was a British law that nobody bothered to vote against.
 

Roll_On

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It sounds like the OP thinks all gay men should have waited until 1993 before they had sex :confused:
Yes he thinks it's ok for the state to enforce celibacy through criminal justice, and only 25 years ago mind.
The timeframe btw is within living memory, and there's been no grand enlightenment since, we were just as educated and science knew as much about homosexuality then as it does now, in fact Ireland was the last west European country to decriminalize, we must of known something the others didn't?
 


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