Gay men in the UK who were convicted under historic anti-gay sex laws are just weeks away from the pardon many have spent most of their lifetimes waiting for.
The amendments to the Policing and Crime Bill, commonly known as Turing’s Law, cleared their final reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday (10 January).
It received unopposed support from all MPs.
Turing’s Law is now likely to receive Royal Assent within weeks.
Speaking to Gay Star News, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice estimated Royal Assent would be given by the end of March.
There is no implementation period for the law, so it will start immediately.
‘Once it receives Royal Assent, the pardons should be immediate,’ a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said.
Thousands of gay and bisexual men arrested and charged under historic gross indecency laws will automatically be granted posthumous pardons .
‘I am deeply sorry that so many men died without being pardoned in this way. I am sorry too that our country was blind to a simple fact – that love is love,’ Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said in a statement.
‘My thanks go out to all MPs who voted for this historic Bill. Whilst we can never undo the hurt caused, I am pleased these men could soon be formally pardoned.’
However, the automatic pardons do not apply for anyone still living.
To receive a pardon, they need to apply to the Home Office to have their names cleared through the disregard process.
Not eligible are men who were convicted for an offence that involved a person younger than 16, was non-consensual or constitutes the offence of sexual activity in a public lavatory.
A separate Private Members’ Bill, introduced by John Nicolson MP, did not receive support from the Government.
Nicolson’s bill would’ve granted an automatic blanket pardon to any men convicted under the historic laws, as long as their conviction does not constitute a crime today, no matter if they’re dead or still living.
Correction: a first version of this article stated Nicolson’s bill would’ve pardoned gay men for any crime committed under the laws, including anyone charged with gross indecency in a public lavatory. This is not the case. It would only have pardoned convictions which are no longer illegal.