England: Historic convictions for homosexual activity to be wiped
Convictions imposed on people for consensual homosexual activity under former laws will be included in a scheme for “righting the wrongs of the past”, the UK’s home secretary Priti Patel is to announce.
Ms Patel said more people would have convictions for same-sex sexual activity removed from their records.
As the law stands, only nine former offences are among a list that the Home Office said “largely focused on the repealed offences of buggery and gross indecency between men”.
An amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will widen the criteria to include any repealed or abolished offence imposed on someone purely for their consensual same-sex sexual activity.
Ms Patel said: “It is only right that where offences have been abolished, convictions for consensual activity between same-sex partners should be disregarded too.
“I hope that expanding the pardons and disregards scheme will go some way to righting the wrongs of the past and to reassuring members of the LGBT community that Britain is one of the safest places in the world to call home.”
She thanked peers Lord Cashman and Lord Lexden for bringing the issue up.
In a statement, the peers as well as Professor Paul Johnson – who was also part of the campaign – welcomed the news.
They said: “For five years, the three of us have been working together on behalf of gay people in the armed forces and in civilian life, who suffered grave injustice because of cruel laws which discriminated against them in the past.
“Now that parliament has repealed those laws, it has a duty to wipe away the terrible stains which they placed, quite wrongly, on the reputations of countless gay people over the centuries.
“The existing legal arrangements to do this are too narrowly drawn. Many gay people who were the victims of past injustice are excluded from them. This is particularly true of individuals in our armed forces, brave people whose careers serving our country were suddenly destroyed.
“We have been pressing the government since 2016 to widen the disregard and pardon schemes through which individuals’ reputations can be fully restored. The government has now pledged to bring forward amendments to legislation which is currently before the Lords. It has done this in close consultation with us. In a matter of weeks, legislation will be in place to enable thousands of gay people to whom grave harm was done to wipe their records clean.
“We are delighted that our long campaign will at last bring many gay people, both living and deceased, the restitution they deserve.”