Press release

Thousands officially pardoned under 'Turing's Law'

Thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted of now abolished sexual offences have today been posthumously pardoned.

placeholder

The historic moment comes after the Policing and Crime Bill today (31 January 2017) received Royal Assent – enshrining, in law, pardons for those convicted of consensual same-sex relationships.

The new law, made possible following government intervention, will also see statutory pardons granted to the living. However, this will only apply in cases where offenders have successfully applied through the Home Office’s disregard process to have historic convictions removed.

Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said:

This is a truly momentous day. We can never undo the hurt caused, but we have apologised and taken action to right these wrongs.

I am immensely proud that ‘Turing’s Law’ has become a reality under this government.

‘Turing’s law’ has been a longstanding government commitment, in order to build on the case of World War II hero and Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing.

Turing, who committed suicide in 1954 following his conviction for gross indecency, was posthumously pardoned by Her Majesty the Queen in 2013.

Notes to editors

  • The new law was made possible through amendments to the Policing and Crime Bill which received Royal Assent today.
  • The amendments were first tabled by Lord Sharkey, Lord Cashman and Lord Lexden with government support.
  • As well as posthumously pardoning gay and bisexual men, this law will also provide pardons for the living in cases where convictions have been deleted through the disregard process. This will ensure that due diligence is carried out and prevent people from claiming to be cleared of offences that are still crimes – including sex with a minor and non-consensual sexual activity.
  • For example, under the disregard process, the Home Office has rejected several applications where the activity was non-consensual and others where the other party was under 16-years-old.
  • An applicant is only eligible for a ‘disregard’ if the Secretary of State decides that it appears that the other person involved in the conduct which constituted the offence consented to it and was aged 16 or over at the time, and that the conduct would not now constitute the offence of sexual activity in a public lavatory. In other words, the Secretary of State must be satisfied that the conduct is no longer criminal.
  • The new law mirrors both the existing disregard process and the new pardon arrangements in Northern Ireland.
  • For more information call the MOJ press office on 020 3334 3503 or 020 3334 3529
Published 31 January 2017