UK will pardon now-abolished same-sex crime convictions

uk pardons

The UK will amend laws to pardon all now-abolished same-sex crime convictions. The criteria for a pardon will include any repealed or abolished civilian or military offence imposed because of consensual same-sex sexual activity.

Home secretary Priti Patel said she hoped the scheme “would go some way to righting the wrongs of the past…

“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.”

Under the proposed amendment, anyone convicted for consensual homosexual activity under abolished laws can apply for the pardon. They will receive an automatic pardon and also see their conviction wiped from the record. Anyone who died before the changes, or up to 12 months afterwards, will receive a posthumous pardon.

Currently, the list of pardonable offences consists of just nine crimes. The Home Office said they “largely focused on the repealed offences of buggery and gross indecency between men”.

The proposed amendment will see men convicted of crimes like solicitation eligible for a pardon.

Politician and Stonewall founder Lord Cashman previously campaigned for the amendment. He said police used solicitation “to entrap gay and bisexual men, sometimes for doing nothing more than chatting up another adult man.”

The posthumous provisions of the amendment would see pardons for men stretching back hundreds of years. Robert Whale and York Horner went to the pillory and prison in the 1700s simply for running a molly house. In 1800, Thomas Hubbard and George Hynes were hanged for consensual sodomy on the HMS St George.

Queensland expungement law

The new UK law will go beyond the current Queensland expungement law for historic same-sex crime. In Queensland, the government only considers posthumous pardons following an application. The application must originate with the spouse or person in a close personal relationship at the time of death or a blood relative. Because Australia only recently recognised same-sex marriage, the inclusion of spouses is almost ridiculous. Additionally, the real-life circumstances of LGBTIQ+ people in the past exclude most deceased gay men. Historically, many LGBTIQ+ people faced estrangement from families and ostracisation from society.

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