Historic Gay Sex Convictions Expunged

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com December 26 2010 12:30 PM ET

U.K. men with historic convictions for gay sex with a partner aged over 16 will have records of their crimes expunged next year, reports British newspaper The Telegraph. Within the next few days Liberal Democrat equalities minister Lynne Featherstone is expected to announce the proposal for new legislation, which will benefit thousands of men who were prosecuted for gay sex with someone over 16 during decades when the practice was against the law. Currently, the prosecuted men must disclose the information as part of the program of Criminal Records Bureau checks if they apply to work or volunteer for charities and other organizations.

Consensual sex between two men over 21 was decriminalized in 1967, but it wasn't until 1994 that the homosexual age of consent was reduced to 18. In 2000 it was finally changed to 16, which is the same age of consent for heterosexuals.

Earlier this month Featherstone told MPs that it is "unfair" and "unjust" that men should still fear being exposed for an act which has "long not been illegal."

"Such men will never again have to disclose that information," Featherstone says. "I hope very much that those gay men whom that has inhibited from volunteering will now find that inhibition removed."