Double standards applied to gay people in north say campaigners
Gay people in Northern Ireland are being treated with a double standard, campaigners have claimed.
The Rainbow Project, which advocates on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, wants the region brought into line with England and Wales where those convicted of abolished sex offences have been formally pardoned.
Director John O'Doherty said: "Since 2012 gay and bisexual men in England and Wales were able to apply to the Home Office to have offences removed from their criminal records – this has not been the case in Northern Ireland.
"Indeed, we have seen this further move by the British government to ensure posthumous pardons in England and Wales while once again LGBT people in Northern Ireland are treated with a double standard."
The UK government has announced posthumous pardons for thousands of gay and bisexual men in England and Wales convicted over consensual same-sex relationships before laws were changed.
The move followed widespread calls for action after Second World War code-breaker Alan Turing was exonerated in 2013 over a 1952 conviction for gross indecency with a 19-year-old man.
Mr O'Doherty added: "The UK presents itself as a modern, diverse and equal society – but the reality remains that the experiences of LGBT people across these islands are hugely different. It is incumbent on not only the Northern Ireland Assembly, but indeed the UK government to ensure that LGBT people living across the UK experience equal dignity and treatment."
Northern Ireland is the only region in the UK or Ireland where same sex marriage remains outlawed and a lifetime ban on gay men donating blood has only recently been lifted.