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Homosexual Law Reform

Volume 14: debated on Thursday 3 December 1981

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12.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he is yet in a position to make a statement on the reform of homosexual law in Northern Ireland.

Not yet, but my right hon. Friend hopes soon to be in a position to make a statement following the recent judgment of the European Court of Human Rights.

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that we cannot allow such an anomaly to continue for much longer? Will he undertake to look at civil liberties generally in Northern Ireland to ensure that they do not fall below those existing in other West European States?

I have given an undertaking that my right hon. Friend hopes to come forward soon, after due consideration has been given to the difficult implications—in a legal and social sense—of the ruling. He hopes to make a statement to the House. I shall pass on to my right hon. Friend the point that the hon. Gentleman raised about civil liberties.

Do the Government accept the principle that legislation that is introduced and passed for the rest of the United Kingdom, as a result of Private Member's Bills and without the authority of the Government being exerted, cannot be applied by the Government, by Order in Council or otherwise, to another part of the United Kingdom?

If the permissive society has not yet reached Northern Ireland, is that not a very good thing that the North shares with the Republic?

My hon. Friend has voiced some of the feelings that are strongly expressed in the Province and to which the Government are rightly sensitive. The judgment of the European Court drew those feelings of sensitivity to the attention of everyone.