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All Consensual Gay Sex Convictions To Be Pardoned Under New Amendment

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All Consensual Gay Sex Convictions To Be Pardoned Under New AmendmentAlamy

Convictions imposed on people purely because of consensual homosexual activity under archaic, now-abolished laws are set to be wiped out, the home secretary has said.

The pardons scheme for convictions is set to be widened, meaning anyone who engaged in consensual same-sex activity and was convicted under rules which have since been eradicated will now have the conviction wiped from their record.

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However, they must have engaged in such activity while over the consenting age of 16, and the act must still conform with current regulations.

The decision is part of the government’s Disregards and Pardons scheme, which is aimed at ‘righting the wrongs of the past’. Priti Patel is set to announce the changes.

Disregards and Pardons scheme expanded to homosexual activity - Alamy Alamy

According to the Home Office, a list already exists that currently details nine former offences, ‘largely focused on the repealed offences of buggery and gross indecency between men’, The Guardian reports. People can apply to have their conviction disregarded and wiped from their record, which means they wouldn’t have to disclose it, if they had been convicted of a crime under the now-scrapped laws.

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The criteria is now being broadened thanks to an amendment to the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill, meaning any repealed or abolished civilian or military offence given to someone purely because of consensual same-sex sexual activity will be included.

As a result of the new scheme, a pardon will also be automatically given to all those who get their conviction or caution overturned.

In addition, a posthumous pardon will be given to anyone who died prior to the scheme coming into action, or up to 12 months afterwards.

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Earlier this year, Conservative peer Lord Lexden called it ‘an affront to gay people’ that there had not previously been an extension to the scheme, while non-affiliated peer Lord Cashman deemed the old schemes ‘significantly flawed’ for only encompassing a ‘small fraction of the laws that, over the decades and centuries, have immiserated the lives of gay and bisexual people’.

Lord Lexden, Lord Cashman and a socialist from the University of York, named Professor Paul Johnson, who have been campaigning for the widening of the scheme for ‘five years on behalf of gay people in the armed forces and in civilian life’, explained how they had been ‘pressing the government since 2016 to widen the disregard and pardon schemes through which individuals’ reputations can be fully restored’.

They stated:

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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.

The decision to widen the pardon and ‘bring forward amendments to legislation’ before the Lords was made in ‘close consultation’ with the trio, who said they were ‘delighted’ for ‘thousands of gay people to whom grave harm was done to wipe their records clean’.

‘Our long campaign will at last bring many gay people, both living and deceased, the restitution they deserve,’ they added.

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Patel said it ‘is only right that where have offences have been abolished, convictions for consensual activity between same-sex partners should be disregarded too’.

‘I hope by 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 added.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected]

Topics: News, LGBTQ+, Now, Priti Patel, uk government

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The Guardian
  1. The Guardian

    Past convictions for homosexual activity to be wiped from records, Patel to announce

Poppy Bilderbeck
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