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Lib Dems to back campaign to pardon gay sex offences

Nick Duffy February 27, 2015

The Liberal Democrats are set to pledge support for a campaign to pardon men convicted of historic gay sex offences – despite fears it could end up helping paedophiles.

Relatives of gay codebreaker Alan Turing’s delivered a petition to Downing Street this week calling for the 49,000 men convicted under anti-gay laws to be pardoned.

Lib Dem Justice Minister Simon Hughes is expected to announce tomorrow that the party will demand pardons as part  of future coalition negotiations.

He will tell students: “There are thousands of men, just like Alan Turing, who have convictions for consenting activity between adults which were only taken to the courts because of the laws of the time which criminalised homosexuality. They are morally innocent of crime and it is time we righted that wrong.

“If we cannot reach agreement across government before the election, Liberal Democrats will make a commitment in our election manifesto to grant an official pardon to all those convicted in the past of sexual activity which today would be perfectly legal.”

However, negotiations within the government are being held up over fears pardons could inadvertently help paedophiles – as not all records of gay sex convictions make clear if a minor was involved.

A source told the Guardian: “There is huge frustration that the deal breaker now appears to be a fear that a general pardon might see what are being described as some paedophiles pardoned.

“This sounds like an excuse and is driving people to despair.”

Proponents of a pardon want the measure applied on a case-by-case basis, using modern consent laws to evaluate whether people should be pardoned.

People with historic gay sex convictions who are still alive can already have them expunged under 2012’s Protection of Freedoms Act – but records cannot be expunged posthumously.

 

The Queen granted a rare posthumous pardon in 2013 to Alan Turing, under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy.

 

 

More: Alan Turing, campaign, England, Gay, justice minister, offences, pardon, petition, Sex, Simon Hughes

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