The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced on Thursday that deceased gay and bisexual men convicted of sexual offences that are no longer considered to be illegal and will have them wiped from their criminal records. This is a symbolic gesture positioned by the British government, and particularly relevant due to the LGBTQ nature, which has impacted many law changes in recent years.
Whilst the MoJ have said that no individuals will be named or singled out – this means that the status of past scandals will be left unresolved. They have not commented on whether perhaps the most notorious individual of homosexual behaviour being criminalised, Oscar Wilde, would be included on the list of exonerations.
The ‘historical act’ of homosexuality is no longer considered to be illegal – when involved with a consensual act with someone over the age of 16 – this means that the individuals who were criminalised for committing ‘homosexuality’ without breaking modern day laws will be deemed to receive the posthumous pardon.
However, the case of Oscar Wilde makes it slightly more complex, Wilde was convicted in 1895 for gross indecency, which also includes evidence of procuring male prostitutes. This is where the government have difficulty in assessing the situation. However, the gay rights organisation, Stonewall, suggest that the playwright and author, who was sentenced to two years’ hard labour in Reading jail, should now be one of the individuals wrongfully prosecuted, should be entitled to a pardon.
Justice minister, Sam Gyimah, announced that a clause would be introduced into the policing and crimb bill stating that ‘it is hugely important that we pardon people convicted of historical sexual offences who would be innocent of any crime today’.
There is currently a disregard process in place, for those who are alive and desire to remove, what was once considered ‘wrongdoings’ from their criminal record (those which are considered to no longer be illegal).
If you’ve been affected by anything in this article, or you’re being discriminated in the workplace due to your sexuality, give one of our friendly team a call who will happily discuss your legal rights with you. Jordan’s are a high regarded law firm based in Dewsbury and Wakefield. Feel free to call us on 0330 300 1103.