On 3 January, the Government announced that pardons will be made available for “any repealed or abolished civilian or military offence that was imposed on someone for, or due to, consensual same-sex sexual activity.” This will be done through amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which is now going through the Lords.
The announcement, widely covered in the media, conceded at last what Alistair Lexden had been working for over a long period in conjunction with (Lord) Michael Cashman and Professor Paul Johnson, the country’s leading expert on the subject.
They issued the following statement to the press:
“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.
Now that Parliament has repealed those laws, it has a duty to wipe away the terrible stains which they placed, quite wrongly, on the reputations of countless gay people over the centuries.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.”