The U.K. has announced that more people will be able to receive a pardon for now-defunct criminal convictions related to consensual same-sex sexual relations.
Priti Patel, the country’s home secretary, said more people will have their convictions wiped from their records than under the current scheme of wiping away such convictions, according to the British news agency PA Media.
Under the current system, only nine former laws are included in the list of convictions that can be disregarded. The British government said that those laws “largely focused on the repealed offenses of buggery and gross indecency between men.”
Those convicted under those nine now-invalid laws can apply to have the conviction erased from their record. In a new amendment to the country’s Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill, the offense to be listed to be disregarded will be broadened to any charge imposed only due to consensual same-sex sexual activity.
People whose convictions have been wiped will receive automatic pardons. Those who have died before the changes occurred will be posthumously pardoned.
“It is only right that where offenses have been abolished, convictions for consensual activity between same-sex partners should be disregarded too,” Patel said, according to PA Media.
“I hope that expanding the pardons and disregards scheme will go some way to righting the wrongs of the past and to reassuring members of the LGBT community that Britain is one of the safest places in the world to call home,” she added.
People in England and Wales have been able to apply to have abolished same-sex crimes wiped from their records since 2012, according to the BBC. In 2017, “Turing’s Law” was passed. Named after the wartime codebreaker Alan Turing who was convicted of gross indecency for homosexual acts, the law allowed posthumous pardons to people convicted of sexual acts that are now not criminal.
Campaigners for the change, Lord Michael Cashman, Lord Lexden, and sociologist Paul Johnson, welcomed the news.
In a statement, they said, “Parliament has a duty to wipe away the terrible stains which they placed, quite wrongly, on the reputations of countless gay people over centuries.”