Her Majesty’s Government is planning to issue a pardon to all those who were convicted of offences that were specifically homosexual. This pardon is not entirely blanket. It excludes those who were convicted of actions which are still crimes today such as sexual acts with a person under the age of 16 year or non-consensual activity. Until 1967 in Wales and England all homosexual acts at any age were considered gross indecency. In Scotland and Northern Ireland the law was amended later.
What is the purpose of this act? It exonerates those who are still alive and currently have criminal records. It is also posthumous. It therefore repairs the reputation of those like Alan Turing who were found guilty of things which are no longer regarded as criminous. It provides some solace for the kinsfolk and friends of deceased men who were once convicted of crimes that were specifically gay. Such acts were not criminal if committed by heterosexuals. This bill is also virtue signalling. Look at us, see how PC and accepting we are.
The wish to placate the relatives of men who were convicted of gay crimes seems silly. If you love your kin then you love them even if they have committed a crime – not that you condone the crime. Gay sex is no longer criminal and surely the relatives of these people think there is nothing infamous about their relative having a conviction for acts of this nature unless the relatives are homophobes.
Bills are not to be passed for therapeutic reasons. The government faces many pressing issues. The economy must be steadied. There is Brexit to manage. This bill is not needed. I do not oppose it as such. It begs the question: should we revisit all laws which have since been repealed? Are all people who were convicted of things that are now lawful to be pardoned. It is futile. People who convicted of having the wrong religious beliefs and suchlike. It would be a tremendous waste of parliamentary time to go back over such issues. We would be judging bygone centuries by the mores of the twenty-first. It is unhistorical and uncalled for.