United Kingdom: Women convicted for being lesbians will be able to seek pardons

Now, women convicted for homosexual activities will also have the opportunity to seek pardons. This was announced by the UK Home Office. 

The Disregards and Pardons Scheme, initially designed for men convicted of specific offenses, has now been expanded, allowing all individuals convicted under homophobic or transphobic laws to request pardons. Finally, women are now included as well. 

This change has been described as “a significant step forward in addressing past wrongs.” The convictions will be removed from official records, meaning that individuals will no longer be obligated to disclose them during legal proceedings or job applications.

“The shameful criminalization of homosexuality is not so distant in our history,” stated Sarah Fines, Minister for Safeguarding. “While they can never be completely erased, the Disregards and Pardons Scheme has taken steps to right the wrongs of the past. I am proud that today the scheme has been significantly expanded to include more repealed offenses. I encourage anyone who has been convicted or cautioned for same-sex sexual activity under a long-defunct law to come forward and apply.” 

Since 2012, men have had the opportunity to apply for the expungement of their convictions and/or cautions. Exceptions are granted if certain conditions are met, including that the individuals involved were at least 16 years old at the time and that the activity in question is no longer considered an offense today. 

Johnny Mercer, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, described the previous treatment of LGBTQIA+ military personnel as “completely unacceptable,” highlighting how the expansion of the pardon program is “a clear demonstration of progress in correcting these wrongs.” “I will continue to work to ensure that the government fulfills its commitment to honor and recognize the service and experiences of every veteran.” 

Rob Cookson, Deputy CEO of the LGBT Foundation, stated that it is “right for the Disregards and Pardons Scheme to be expanded” given the “huge and terrible impact” that unjust convictions have had on LGBTQIA+ community members. To provide clear context, it should be noted that the decriminalization of all homosexual acts became a reality in the United Kingdom in 1967.


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