Ben Howlett, the MP for Bath, has welcomed the news that the Government will posthumously pardon thousands of gay and bisexual men who have been found guilty of decades-old sexual offences.
The enactment of the ‘Alan Turing’ law means around 49,000 men will be cleared of crimes of which they would now be innocent.
Since 2012, people who were prosecuted under old sexual offences laws have been able to apply to the Home Office to have their conviction deleted from their criminal record, something called a “disregard”.
This is stronger than a pardon, because the Government is essentially saying no crime was committed, and the crime is physically deleted from the record. But many people have had their application rejected because the law didn’t cover all the offences that police used to persecute gay and bisexual men.
Thanks to amendments made by Lord Cashman in December, which were supported by the Government, the law passed yesterday also paves the way for ensuring that everyone unfairly prosecuted for being gay and bisexual will soon be able to have these ‘crimes’ deleted from their record. For instance the many thousands of men who were cautioned or convicted for kissing, holding hands or just chatting up other men.
Stonewall, the LGBT rights charity, will be working with the Government to ensure that the way the law is implemented does ensure all gay and bisexual men who were unjustly persecuted and prosecuted can finally receive the justice they deserve.
In a statement, the charity said: “We can celebrate the fact that we live in a country that acknowledges that we got this wrong in the past, and we mean to make amends for that.
“It is another step towards achieving acceptance for everyone, whoever they are.”
Speaking after the announcement, Ben said: “I am delighted that the Government has posthumously pardoned thousands of gay and bisexual men who had been convicted of decades old sexual offences.
“Families have faced the needless upset and harm for decades and I hope that this change in the law will say once and for all that being who you want to be is never wrong.”