Pardons extended for gay and bisexual men convicted of abolished same sex crimes

Alan Turing, whose name is given to the 2017 pardons law (GCHQ)

More people who were given criminal convictions for now-repealed same sex offences will be eligible for a pardon, the government has said.

The expanded pardons scheme means anyone convicted or cautioned for consensual homosexual activity under now-scrapped laws will be able to apply to have them “disregarded”.

The convictions would then be erased and an automatic pardon would be given, reports the BBC.

Since 2012, a scheme has allowed people in England and Wales to have historic same-sex convictions disregarded.

Under ‘Turing’s Law’ in 2017, men who had been convicted of same sex acts that are no longer criminalised were given automatic posthumous pardons.

It was named after Alan Turing, the computing pioneer who was posthumously pardoned for the conviction of ‘gross indecency’ in 1952 for same-sex relations.

Watch: LGBT mural for Alan Turing installed at GCHQ

But the current law only provides for pardons from a list of nine former offences, largely focussed on now repealed offences of buggery and gross indecency between men.

Under the new proposals, pardons would be widened to encompass any repealed or abolished civilian or military offence which was imposed on someone solely because of consensual same-sex sexual activity.

The amendment would also allow those who have died prior to the amendment coming into force, and within a year after the change comes into force, to be posthumously pardoned.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “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."

The change comes after a campaign by LGBT activists, including Lord Cashman. He had highlighted how the offence of solicitation by men among others was not included in the original scheme.

Lord Lexden, a fellow peer, also said earlier this year that it was an “affront” to gay men that the scheme had not been extended.

Alongside Professor Paul Johnson, who also lobbied for the change, both peers welcomed the change in a statement.

They said in a statement to the broadcaster: “Parliament has a duty to wipe away the terrible stains which they placed, quite wrongly, on the reputations of countless gay people over centuries."

Watch: UK unveils new banknote celebrating Alan Turing