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Home Secretary Priti Patel has confirmed that she will extend the pardon scheme whereby people convicted in the past for consensual same-sex activity under now-abolished laws will have their convictions wiped from the record. Currently, the government’s Disregards and Pardons Scheme covers a narrow set of repealed laws, chiefly those of buggery and gross indecency between men. The scheme is now set to be expanded in an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to include any abolished civilian or military offence relating to consensual same-sex activity. Everyone convicted or cautioned will have their sentences disregarded and will receive an automatic pardon.

Ms 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.”

Lord (Michael) Cashman, his House of Lords colleague Lord Lexden and Professor Paul Johnson, who have been campaigning for the scheme to be extended to cover all same-sex legislation which would not constitute an offence today, issued a joint statement saying, “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.”

Lord Cashman has been campaigning on this issue for five years.

The statement continues: “Now that Parliament has repealed those laws, it has a duty to wipe away the terrible stains which they placed, quite wrongly, on the reputations of countless gay people over the centuries.

“The existing legal arrangements to do this are too narrowly drawn. Many gay people who were the victims of past injustice are excluded from them. This is particularly true of individuals in our armed forces, brave people whose careers serving our country were suddenly destroyed.

“We have been pressing the government since 2016 to widen the disregard and pardon schemes through which individuals’ reputations can be fully restored. The government has now pledged to bring forward amendments to legislation which is currently before the Lords. It has done this in close consultation with us. In a matter of weeks, legislation will be in place to enable thousands of gay people to whom grave harm was done to wipe their records clean.

“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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