New Brief: Scotland to Pardon Gay Men Convicted Under Outdated Laws

by Aaron Shepard
in News
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News Brief Scotland to Pardon Gay Men Convicted Under Outdated Laws

News Brief Scotland to Pardon Gay Men Convicted Under Outdated Laws

New Brief:  Scotland to Pardon Gay Men Convicted Under Outdated Laws

Men convicted of same-sex sexual activity on the basis of outdated and homophobic laws will receive a full pardon, the Scottish government has announced.

Holyrood, Edinburgh’s justice secretary, Michael Matheson, told the chamber in late October that the parliament would bring forward a Scottish “Turing law” to automatically pardon gay and bisexual men convicted of sexual offenses that are no longer criminal.  He added that his officials had also been in discussion with Police Scotland to identify the most effective way of ensuring that past convictions for consensual sex between men no longer appeared on a person’s criminal record.

The law is named after Alan Turing, whose work during the Second World War helped break the German Enigma code, who was pardoned posthumously in 2013.  Turing was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 and chemically castrated.  He died two years later; an autopsy found he had killed himself.

Private homosexual acts between men aged over 21 were decriminalized in England and Wales in 1967, but the law in Scotland was not changed until 1980.

While addressing the Holyrood chamber, Matheson said, “It is sadly the case that Scotland has only relatively recently modernized our criminal law so that they no longer discriminate against same-sex sexual activity.  It is shocking to consider that consensual sex between men was only decriminalized in Scotland in 1980 and the age of consent for same-sex sexual activity was not equalized for sexual activity between men and women until 2001.”

“Such laws clearly have no place in a modern and inclusive Scotland.  However, there are people with criminal convictions for same-sex sexual activity that is now lawful and we must right this wrong.”