The government has tabled amendments to remove convictions of gay men convicted of now-legal sex acts.

The promise to remove such criminal records announced by the Conservative Party before last year’s election.

An estimated 16,000 convictions could be removed from police records and the government has also moved to wipe malicious convictions for “loitering with intent”.

The amendments are contained in the Protection of Freedoms Bill and will give gay men the right to ask their local chief constable to remove the conviction from records and the police national computer.

Although gay sex was decriminalised years ago, the changes were not made effective retroactively and men convicted of consensual sex acts must still declare the convictions when applying to work with children or vulnerable adults.

Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said: “We warmly welcome the government’s decision to table these amendments and will encourage all parties to support them.

“Not only were those convictions unfair but their presence on people’s records has dissuaded many of those men from applying for jobs or volunteering their time to good causes.”

He added: “We’re grateful to Home Office officials who have worked on this issue ever since we first met them as long ago as 2003. Many police forces across Britain were until the recent past often highly creative in the way they unfairly prosecuted gay men. Consequently, we strongly welcome these provisions being extended to men prosecuted for what was often a trumped-up charge of loitering with intent.”