Labour Senator Nash has pointed out at this proposal as a necessary act in order to move on from 'draconian laws'. However is it really a pardon what the Irish Gay men need(ed)?
The situation is, of course, complex and lends itself to any type of manipulation, especially in times where populism seems to be taking over history, common sense, reflection and sensible considerations of the facts. However, it should not be too difficult to conceive a realist view on this issue. What does 'pardoning' actually mean?
According to the Oxford Dictionary:
Pardoning: [mass noun] The action of forgiving or being forgiven for an error or offence:
‘he obtained pardon for his sins’
How does this term, therefore, fit into our discussion? Well, it simply does not, if we assume that being homosexual is not a sin, an error or an offence, which, luckily, is the intelligent assumption of many in the Irish society nowadays.
What can we do then if we are offered a cordial and totally uninterested (sarcasm alert here!!!) pardon?
We should simply not accept it for the following reasons:
1) Accepting a pardon implies that an offence, an error or a sin have been committed
2) Accepting a pardon would mean to condemn ourselves in a tribunal which is obsolete and anachronistic.
3) Accepting a pardon does not make up for the mistaken of the past and does not advocate for a better future.
What can we, then, suggest to Senator Nash in order to improve his proposal?
1) To try not to emphasise too much the messianic role of the Labour Party by saying: 'Where the Labour Party sees injustice, whether it’s at home or abroad, we always fight it.'
Because the Labour Party is not proposing to fight a historic injustice, but to perpetuate it by archiving it into History books and deliver their 'kind' act to a glory which is seen as such only by populists.
2) To propose a comprehensive apology and condemnation of what happened in the past. While nothing will change the past, an apology would admit: 'Yes, we did something very VERY wrong to Irish Gay men, we are sorry for it' and we condemn it in the strongest terms'. A pardon would actually admit that something wrong has been done by Gay men and that our 'kind' politicians decided to move over towards toleration. It is not toleration what gay men need, it is not pity what gay men need!
3) To proactively act and approve a SOLID legislation against hate crime, homophobic and transphobic bullying, which will prevent our kids to go through the same old homophobia that condemned many Irish men prior to 1993. These would be important acts which clearly do not make up for the past but that would set the future on a much brighter side.
In conclusion, dear Senator Nash, NO, we do not need a pardoning, we need an apology and a clear and substantial position by government in ending inequality which will prevent a horrible past to re-emerge.