GAY men prosecuted under outdated laws can apply to have their convictions erased as new legislation comes into force in Scotland.

Men who were convicted for engaging in sexual acts with another man during a “dark piece of Scotland’s history” will from today receive automatic pardons and are able to have their criminal records scratched from the official records.

The Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) Act – passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament in June 2018 – is now in force, meaning people criminalised for bisexual or homosexual relationships that are now legal will be pardoned.

Those who have historic convictions can apply to have it “disregarded” from October 15, meaning they will never show up on enhanced disclosure checks as they would have done previously.

Welcoming the introduction of the “landmark legislation”, Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “There is no place for homophobia, ignorance and hatred in modern Scotland.

“We have been working closely with Police Scotland and other partners to ensure the ‘disregard’ scheme is clear and effective and has appropriate safeguards in place.

“This legislation makes good on the commitments made by the First Minister, who gave an unqualified apology for the now outdated and discriminatory laws, and for the harm they caused to many.”

Same-sex sexual activity between men was made legal in Scotland in 1980 and the age of consent was equalised with those for heterosexual relationships in 2001.

Sophie Bridger, campaigns, policy and research manager for Stonewall Scotland, said: “The new disregards process is a positive step in righting historical wrongs that punished people in same-sex relationships.

“We hope this will bring comfort and closure to those affected and draw a line once and for all under this dark piece of Scotland’s history.”