Convictions to be Repealed on a Case-by-Case Basis

The Home Office’s stated intention to wipe off pre-1967 convictions for homosexual acts that would have been legal today will not be an across-the-board arrangement, the Government has announced. Instead, people convicted under the indecency laws that outlawed any same sex male relations will have to apply to have their convictions quashed and wait while a case-worker is assigned to their case and undertakes a review.
The decision to allow the wiping off of pre-1967 convictions was part of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, which received Royal Assent in May, but the specific arrangements have only just come to light. Homosexual acts between men were partially decriminalised in 1967, as long as there were only two men involved, both participants were over 21 and the act(s) took place in a private building where no other persons were present. Prior to that, it is estimated that 16,000 + people were convicted under the ‘Loitering with Intent’ Law. It is people who were convicted under the ‘Loitering with Intent’ law who have now been granted the right to have their convictions wiped off the statute.
Tony Fenwick, co-chair of LGBT History Month said: “Any attempt to quash convictions which were wholly wrong and criminalised people who are still alive is to be welcomed. But the victims of this law will be in their sixties at the very least, since it was repealed 45 years ago. Few will be working, so the occupational implications of the decision will no longer make any difference. The only reason they would have to apply for their conviction to be quashed would be to set the record straight and reconcile themselves with their nation’s legal system. Then if they have to make an individual case they will have to rake over the experience of the prosecution and conviction again, which may be quite painful. I can’t see many of the victims of this law queuing up to take on this injustice if they have to do so on a case-by-case basis. And who pays the legal fees? Are they entitled to legal aid?
“What is more, when the Home Office announced in 2012 that there was an intent to quash convictions relating to anti-homosexuality laws,” Tony added, “I understood this included post 1967 convictions. Before 1994 the age of consent for men having sex with men was 21. So, if a man of 22 had sex with a man of 20, which they both wanted and both enjoyed by mutual agreement, both were breaking the law. Moreover, because the man of 20 could not legally consent, the sex was non-consensual. Therefore it was  a sexual assault. The 22 year old man was the assailant and the 20 year old the victim. I want to see the victims of these absurd laws have their convictions quashed before they are retired.”