Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

From 1 October 2012 people in England and Wales with some convictions and cautions for consensual gay sex will be able to apply to the Home Office to have these offences removed from their criminal records.

Read Stonewall's guide about who's eligible and how to apply.

Download the application form to have these offences disregarded.

Stonewall are holding a number of advice sessions to answer any of your questions and offer information on completing your application form. For more information and to make an appointment contact our information service. 

Stonewall campaigned hard for the repeal of laws that criminalised gay sex. These laws made consensual sex between men illegal but after the laws were changed thousands of men were left with convictions and cautions for offences such as gross indecency and buggery on their criminal records. Many felt unable to apply for jobs and voluntary positions as they feared these convictions would be revealed.

The Protection of Freedoms Act, which Stonewall lobbied for, allows people to apply to have these convictions and cautions 'disregarded' (removed from their criminal records). The following laws are covered:

Section 12 or 13 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956
Section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824
Section 61 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861
Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885
Section 45 of the Naval Discipline Act 1866
Section 41 of the Army Act 1881
Section 41 of the Air Force Act 1917
Section 70 of the Army Act 1955
Section 70 of the Air Force Act 1955
Section 42 of the Naval Discipline Act 1957

People charged under these laws will only be able to have them disregarded if two key conditions are satisfied:

  • the other person(s) involved in the offence were 16 or over at the time of the offence
  • the offence does not involve sexual activity in a public lavatory (which is still illegal)

View more details about the Protection of Freedoms Act on the Home Office website.


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