Words by Mansi Tailor, Staff Writer

The Home Office is set to “right the wrongs of the past” as a pardons scheme is being expanded that would remove all past convictions for homosexual activity.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill included controversial policies such as anti protest measures, and increased police stop and search powers. It also presented the potential to criminalise traveller communities. The bill, however, is being reassessed as the House of Lords rejected the amendments put forth. If reassessed successfully, it would include a pardons scheme that would remove past convictions for consensual homosexual activity.

Currently only nine former offences are included on a list that the Home Office said “largely focused on the repealed offences of buggery and gross indecency between men”. More offences to be revoked will be added as part of the new amendment. 

This amendment will make it possible for civilians and military personnel to have their offences stricken off the record, should these offences be due to consensual homosexual activity. Those already covered under this scheme will get automatic pardons. 

In Priti Patel’s attempt to expand the government’s Disregards and Pardons scheme from a narrow set of laws, anyone convicted of a crime under the now repealed laws can appeal to have it removed from their criminal record.

Those who have convictions to their names and have passed away or the people who may pass away for up to 12 months after the scheme is introduced will get a posthumous pardon.

The Home Secretary said that “It is only right that where offences have been abolished, convictions for consensual activity between same-sex partners should be disregarded too”,  and that “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”.

Patel thanked her peers, the non-affiliated Lord Cashman and the Conservative Lord Lexden for raising the issue. The two of them, along with Professor Paul Johnson, have been working on this inclusion for five years.

The Home Office said that there would be certain conditions in place when removing a conviction. If these conditions are not met, a person would still have the charges on their record. These conditions are that all the parties involved must be 16 years old or above and that the offences convicted for should not be an offence today.

Lord Lexden had pointed out that it was an “affront to gay people” that the scheme had not been extended. Whereas Cashman said in November that “the disregard and pardon schemes in England and Wales are significantly flawed because they encompass only a small fraction of the laws that, over the decades and centuries, have immiserated the lives of gay and bisexual people”.

Lord Cashman, Lord Lexden and Prof Paul Johnson welcomed the news and 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.”

“We are delighted that our long campaign will at last bring many gay people, both living and deceased, the restitution they deserve.”

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