Ed Miliband: Labour won’t pardon gay men but will wipe their convictions

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The Labour Party has clarified its position on an announcement by leader Ed Miliband about men convicted of gay sex offences, to say that records would actually be expunged, not pardoned.

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

Miliband told GT (Gay Times) earlier this week that, if elected Prime Minister, he would make the matter a priority.

He said: “I think it’s worth saying that we DO want to extend the principles being applied to Alan Turing and his family, to be able to say to others who were convicted of a criminal offence simply because of the person that they loved – whether they are alive or no longer alive – that we can get a pardon for them.”

However, despite Mr Miliband’s use of the word “pardon”, the Labour Party has actually confirmed that the official records and criminal records of the men convicted would be wiped out, on a case by case basis.

In a statement sent to PinkNews, Mr Miliband said: “I have pledged that a future Labour government will offer families the right to overturn convictions of gay men prosecuted under historic indecency laws. This law will be known as Turing’s Law in memory of Alan Turing – the Enigma code-breaker – who was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ in 1952 and has subsequently received a posthumous Royal Pardon. What was right for Alan Turing’s family should be right for other families as well. It’s time we righted this historic injustice.”

Speaking to PinkNews, a Labour Party spokesperson added: “Labour agrees that there is a continuing injustice for those who died before the law caught up with the changes in society. The next Labour Government therefore wants to review how the Protection of Freedom Act could be extended to cover those deceased as well as those alive – allowing applications on a case-by-case basis. This would allow the family and friends of people convicted of historical offences that would no longer be considered criminal to have their conviction removed.

“This is essentially a disregard – whereby any record of the offence is removed from police records and other official documents.

“We are prepared to consult with lawyers/stakeholders in advance, to ensure that this is the best route to righting this historical injustice.”

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.

The Liberal Democrats last week pledged support for the campaign.