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Government announces pardon for those convicted of now abolished same-sex crimes

On Tuesday 4th January 2022, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced an extension to the ‘Disregards and Pardons scheme’ which will see the pardoning of thousands of LGBTQ+ people with historical criminal convictions that punished their sexuality. In a statement, the home secretary said she hoped the revisions to the scheme "would go some way to righting the wrongs of the past".

Manchester Pride welcomes these long overdue corrections which have led many LGBTQ+ people to face the stigma of criminal convictions, and the embarrassment and trauma of having to formally disclose them for simply being themselves.

Since 2021, people with historical same-sex sexual cautions and convictions in England and Wales have been able to apply to have them disregarded. This was extended in 2017 when ‘Turing’s Law’ was passed to grant automatic posthumous pardons to LGBTQ+ people who were convicted of sexual acts that are, and rightly so, no longer criminal offences.

The scheme unfortunately did not go far enough, with just nine former offences currently included on a list. Under the revised scheme, the convictions would be wiped from record and an automatic pardon given, meaning those convicted would not be required to disclose it. An amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will widen the criteria to include any repealed or abolished civilian or military offence that was imposed on someone purely due to consensual same-sex sexual activity.

The home secretary went on to say: "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."

What is Turing’s Law?

‘Turing’s Law’ is the name give to the disregarding and pardons scheme in which men with historical convictions for gay sex may apply to have their convictions disregarded (deleted, or where not possible, annotated) and pardoned.

Alan Turing, considered the father if the computer, was a mathematician and World War Two code breaker. In 1952, Turing was prosecuted with homosexual acts and chemically castrated for his relationship with a man. In 1954, he took his own life. In 2013 he was posthumously pardoned of his 'crimes', and the Government made a public apology for the horrendous treatment he endured whilst he was alive. 

Under so-called ‘Turing’s Law’ where the convictions are disregarded, they will no longer be disclosed on Disclosure and Barring Service certificates or in court proceedings.

In 2019, the BBC Two: Icons programme awarded Alan Turing the title of 'The Greatest Person of the 20th Century' in the Scientists category. Watch Chris Packham's moving speech on the life of Alan Turing here.

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