Our Petition  Was Presented to Parliament on 14th December  by Labour MP for Hull  North, Diana JOhnson
Our Petition Was Presented to Parliament on 14th December by Labour MP for Hull North, Diana JOhnson

We would like to thank Diana for presenting the petition. We would also like to thank all those who signed the petition since it was launched at Hull Pride in 2015 and those who worked to promote it.

The petition read [this petition] declares that there are many people who were convicted of gross indecency and related ‘homosexual offences’ prior to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 ,further that these offences were decriminalised by that Act and would not now be an offence and,further, that any person,alive or deceased should be exonerated.”

It should be noted that this goes much further than the Current Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. This made provision for living ‘offenders’ to apply for a pardon. The deceased had no such right for applications to be made on their behalf. The governments self-proclaimed Turing Law would alter this so that the deceased would receive an automatic pardon but the living would still have to apply.This provision lead SNP John Nicholson to introduce aPrivate Members Bill that woul extend automatic pardons to the living.

We support the idea that pardons should be automatic for victims living and dead BUT we believe they should be EXONERATIONS —as they would not have the stigma of original guilt that goes with a pardon

In all cases exonerations or pardons would be limited to convictions for offences that are no longer criminal offences

The Nicholson Bill

This Private Members Bill was introduced on 20th October when it caused great anger among MPs when it was sabotaged by Justice [ha ha] Minister Sam Gyimah who talked the bill out and claimed that the bill could lead to people being pardoned for Acts that were still offences-such as sex with minors because the bill was not watertight. {A claim hotly disputed by expert legal opinion
There were shouts of shame as Gyimahs tactics ensured that no vote was taken. The next debate was scheduled for 16th December but was not reached . It is now been re-scheduled for 20th January . Nothing further has been heard of the governments trumpeted “Turing Act” Their tactics have been shamefully negative.

Gay Labour MP Chris Bryant was nearly moved to tears during the debate and said this on the governments declared intention of denying the living an automatic pardon

Chris Bryant M.P.
Chris Bryant M.P.

In an impassioned speech Mr Bryant said there was a ‘real problem’in forcing those still alive to go through a new process to clear their names.He questioned why those involved—who may be in their eighties-would want to dredge up what had been a ‘brand’ on their lives and which may have caused ‘terrible problems’in their family social and work lives

“Why on earth would you want to write to the Home Secretary and say ‘Please-can I be pardoned’
Why on earth would you want to go through a process all over again? Why on earth would you want someone to analyse whether you were guilty at all way back then?”

Precisely so—–and indeed very very few have applied

The Irish Show The Way ‘Apology and Exoneration’ Bill introduced

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Meanwhile,on the very day that the UK parliament failed to find time to debate John Nicholsons far more modest bill, the Irish Labour Party was introducing a ‘Covictions for Certain Sexual Offences [Apology and Exoneration ] Bill into the Dail [Irish Parliament]

Introducing it Ged Nash TD said the following

“[The Bill] provides for an APOLOGY from the state and EXONERATION for those engaging in sexual offences that have since been abolished. but it goes further than this,to officially acknowledge that the ‘offences’ were ‘improperly discriminatory ,contrary to human dignity and infringed personal dignity. Nothing we can do or say will ever truly make up for the hurt and marginalisation —-imposed on gay citizens for decades and caused so many people to live with a crushing and enduring fear of being ‘found out’ But in apologising for what we did in the past and acknowledging that we were wrong,we might ease some of that pain.”

And indeed the Senator is right. We cannot re-write history but we CAN seek to make what limited redress we can. The Irish Bill has all party support and is likely to become law.
Homosexuality was only legalised in the Irish Republic in 1993. The UK [well parts of it] celebrate the 50th anniversary of partial decrimnalisation this year
On this matter we are light years behind the Irish We too need an Irish style Apology and Exoneration Act

A Pardon—-especially the limited one on offer —is not enough. But for this Government ‘Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word’

CWL 2/1/17

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