Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced that pardons will be extended to all those who have been previously convicted of now-abolished same-sex crimes.
People convicted under a variety of now scrapped laws relating to homosexuality can currently apply to have their conviction disregarded and removed from their record. Since 2012 in England and Wales, there have been nine former crimes related to same-sex activity which are eligible to be removed from someone’s record, but various groups have criticised this list as not going far enough. The home office described the list as “largely focused on the repealed offences of buggery and gross indecency between men”.
Lord Lexden, Lord Cashman and Professor Paul Johnson, who have campaigned since 2016 to extend the list of same-sex crimes for which pardons can be granted, said:
“Now that parliament has repealed those laws, it has a duty to wipe away the terrible stains which they placed, quite wrongly, on the reputations of countless gay people over the centuries.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.”
The amendment to the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill will extend the list of former crimes to include “any repealed or abolished civilian or military offence that was imposed on someone purely for, or due to, consensual same-sex sexual activity”.
Regarding the changes, Priti Patel stated:
“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.”
Once the amendment comes into effect, anyone who was convicted and died prior to the changes in the law will receive a pardon automatically, along with anyone who dies within the first 12 months of the changes coming into place.
Regarding the news of the amendment, Lords Lexden and Cashman, and Prof Johnson said:
“We are delighted that our long campaign will at last bring many gay people, both living and deceased, the restitution they deserve.”