Saturday, 20 Apr 2024

More LGBT people will have historic homosexuality convictions wiped

A scheme to wipe historic convictions for same-sex activity has been expanded, allowing women to apply for the first time.

The Home Office scheme will now allow anyone convicted under any repealed or abolished offences, including more armed forces veterans, to apply.

Until now, only men have been able to apply to have convictions wiped for a specific list offences – focusing on ‘buggery’ and gross indecency between men.

The scheme’s expansion means offences such as ‘solicitation by men’, which was used to criminalise behaviour between gay men which would be considered no more than flirting between a man and a woman, are now included.

More service offences are now included, meaning more veterans who were prosecuted under service law can apply to have those convictions wiped from their records.

Rob Cookson from the LGBT Foundation said: ‘People should never be criminalised simply for who they are and who they love.

‘The criminalisation of gay men made a huge, terrible impact on many people in our community.

‘It is only right that the disregards and pardons scheme has been widened.’

Minister for Safeguarding Sarah Dines said: ‘The appalling criminalisation of homosexuality is a shameful and yet not so distant part of our history.

‘Although they can never be undone, the disregards and pardons scheme has gone some way to right the wrongs of the past.

‘I am proud that from today the scheme has been significantly widened to include more repealed offences.

‘I invite all of those who were convicted or cautioned for same-sex sexual activity under an abolished offence to come forward and apply.’

The scheme was first set up in 2012 and has now been expanded under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.

A ‘disregard’ will be granted if certain conditions are met, including that any other party involved must have been aged 16 or over and the sexual activity does not constitute an offence today.

Johnny Mercer, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, said: ‘The treatment of LGBT armed forces personnel and veterans prior to 2000 was wholly unacceptable, and today’s announcement is a clear demonstration of progress in righting these wrongs.

‘I will continue working to ensure government meets its commitment to value and recognise every veteran’s service and experience.’

People can apply to the scheme using an application form on the government’s website.

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