From today men with historic convictions for consensual gay sex can apply to have them disregarded, as the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 comes into force. Stonewall lobbied hard to achieve cross-party support for amendments to Part 4 of the Act to increase the number of historic offences that can now be disregarded. Today the charity publishes a step-by-step guide to help prospective applicants exercise their new rights.
Under the new Act men who were convicted of gross indecency or consensual gay sex that is no longer illegal can apply to have their convictions disregarded. The Act also includes amendments, secured by Stonewall, which will enable gay and bisexual men maliciously convicted of ‘loitering with intent’ under Section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824 to have those convictions removed from their criminal record too.
Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill said: ‘From today thousands of men who’ve been burdened with homophobic convictions can clear their names, and Stonewall stands ready to help them. We never forget that the equality we enjoy today came too late for many. By correcting these historic injustices we can start to bring closure to a very sad period of this country’s history.’
Stonewall’s step-by-step guide to deleting historic convictions is available at www.stonewall.org.uk/oldconvictions or from Stonewall’s Information Service on 08000 50 20 20. Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill gave evidence to the Public Bill Committee considering the Protection of Freedoms Bill on 24 March 2011, and the charity lobbied the Home Secretary to increase the Act’s scope to repeal more historic offences.
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