British MP Priti Patel said anyone with convictions for having consensual gay sex will have them removed from their records as part of the UK government’s Disregards and Pardons scheme.

According to The Independent, Patel, the Home Secretary, is doing this in a bid to expand what are a “narrow set of laws.”

Consensual Homosexual Activity Was Illegal

Consensual homosexual activity was illegal under Britain’s now-abolished laws.

The nine former offences included on the specific list according to the Home Office are primarily focused on “the repealed offences of buggery and gross indecency between men.”

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Anyone who was convicted under those defunct laws can make a formal request to have them erased from their record and are “not be required to disclose [information about those sexual activities].”

For someone to meet the requirements to have these acts disregarded and to be granted pardon for them, they must show the consenting partner they had sex with was over the age of 16 and “the sexual activity must not constitute an offence today.”

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

She continued, “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.”

Applicants Will Receive Automatic Pardon

Applicants will also receive an automatic pardon. Those who die before the changes take effect or up to 12 months after, will receive a posthumous pardon.

Patel thanked her peer, Tory MP Lord Lexden and non-affiliated peer Lord Michael Cashman who raised the issue.

Early this year, Lexden called it “an affront to gay people” that the scheme had not be extended.

Cashman tweeted, “A late night for me celebrating our move towards enacting legislation to undo the generational wrongs done to so many LGBTQI people in the UK. I now focus on ensuring this becomes law, and addressing the grotesque inequality faced by trans people.”

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Professor Paul Johnson, a sociologist from the University of York cooperated with Lords Lexden and Cashman on the campaign. They welcomed the good news.

“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.

“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.

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

Ian McKellen and Michael Cashman 1988. Image: The Guardian

Gay Sex Convictions Already Expunged in Australia

In Australia, Victoria was the first state to expunge convictions for gay sex with the Sentencing Amendment Bill in 2014. South Australia, Tasmania and New South Wales soon followed suit.

Western Australia allowed LGBTQI people to have their convictions removed in 2017 after Premier Mark McGowan formally apologised to them.

Queensland and the Northern Territory passed their bills in 2018.

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