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[Closed] The Historical Sexual Offences Pardon Act of 2013
The Historical Sexual Offences Pardon Act of 2013
An Act to make provision for the pardoning and disregarding of convictions for historical and specific sexual offences now abolished; and for connected purposes.
BE IT ENACTED, by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—
(1) “Relevant Offence” or “Historical Offence” means offences under amended or repealed legislation pertaining to homosexual acts provided that in any such offenses the other person involved in the conduct which constituted the offense both:
(a) Consented to it;
(b) Was aged 16 or over, and which are not offenses on the day in which this Act becomes law.
(1) Each such person convicted or cautioned for a relevant offence is to be taken to be pardoned in respect to the relevant offence or offences for which that person was convicted or cautioned as long as it falls under the following offences and conditions:
(a) Section 12 (buggery), Section 13 (gross indecency between men) and Section 32 (solicitation by men) of the Sexual Offences Act 1956 (buggery);
(b) Section 61 (corresponding to earlier offences) of the Offences against the Person Act 1861;
(c) Section 11 (also corresponding to earlier offences) of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885;
(d) Which fulfills the conditions set under Section 1.1.a and 1.1.b;
(2) Each such person convicted or cautioned for a relevant offence who has died before this section comes into force is pardoned for the offence long as it falls under Section 2.1.a, 2.1.b, 2.1.c and fulfills 2.1.d.
(3) The Secretary of State may by regulation add or amend the conditions set under Section 2.1. The power to make such regulations shall be exercisable by statutory instrument and shall not made unless said instrument has been approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.
(1) Nothing in this Act affects any right of Her Majesty to grant a free pardon, quash any conviction or sentence, or commute any sentence.
(2) Nothing in this Act shall be interpreted as a pardon, a disregard or any other effect on cautions, convictions or sentences over behavior which is unlawful on the date the Act comes into force.
(3) This Act does not replace, reduce or affect the right of any person to apply to the Secretary of State under Section 92 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 regarding a conviction or caution for a relevant offence.
4. Short title, commencement and extent
(1) This Act may be cited as the Historical Sexual Offenses Pardon Act of 2013.
(2) This Act comes into force on the day on which it is passed.
(3) This Act extends to England and Wales.
As expressed on my earlier statement to the House on the matter of Dr. Turing's pardon, I present this bill to this House to account for the thousands of Britons - estimated by some to range between 50,000 to 100,000 - who were convicted over same-sex "sexual offences" due to their sexual orientation. Such "offences" while lawful at a time are clearly of a different era and a different society of ours, and rightfully the notion that they should be illegal is one we have fully left behind as a society.
These thousands of Britons were convicted and yet they would be innocent on this day and age after changes to legislation and attitudes over the past few decades. And while it was the strong, sincere belief of this Government that Dr. Alan Turing deserved a particular pardon on account of his brilliant accomplishments and unfair treatment that should in no way mean that further action should not be taken to account for the thousands of victims whose only crime was to partake in a consensual relationship with a member of their own sex.
Mr. Speaker, although a disregard process was introduced last year it is our belief that further legislation on the matter is necessary, hence why the introduction of the Historical Sexual Offences Pardon Act of 2013. What is being proposed is to introduce a general pardon to those convicted of sexual offences pertaining to same-sex relationships and homosexual acts, provided that those acts were consensual, over the age of consent and not illegal today so as to not fall into the problematic notion of pardoning actual instances of abuse which we would - quite rightly - still condemn today.
This covers previous offences under past legislation currently amended or replaced, and it also accounts for the countless cases of convictions in which the pardon comes too late due to the death of the involved person. Dr. Turing, the brilliant Oscar Wilde and many others who suffered under these charges and convictions also deserve to be pardoned, just as those still living and whose convictions may still cause not only psychological or personal damage but actual legal or even employment issues would benefit from such a measure.
Ultimately it may never be possible for the British Government to fully apologize, atone and repair the damage caused by the social and judicial norms of a past era. And yet, Mr. Speaker, it is very important for many of our fellow citizens that we nonetheless try and do our best. I believe this piece of legislation to be important and to be necessary, and will be happy to work with members from across the House should any improvements be considered necessary.
Rt. Hon. Andrew Summer MP
First Secretary of State (2013 - 2014)
Justice Secretary (2013 - 2014, 2014 - Present)
Nations, Regions, and Local Government Secretary (2014 - Present)
Member of Parliament for Ashford (2001 - Present)
Parliamentary experience: Unknown (19)
Media experience: Unknown (22)
Policy experience: Unknown (13)
I beg and move that this bill be read a second time.
Rt. Hon. Barclay Calhoun
MP for New Forest West
Shadow Leader of the House
Shadow Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport
Greater Britain Committee
Parliamentary experience: Unknown (19)
Media experience: Unknown (17)
Policy experience: Unknown (10)
I rise to offer my full and unequivocal support to this legislation, Mr. Speaker.
Let me begin my commending my Rt. Hon friend, the Secretary of State for Justice, for his leadership on this issue. The Member for Ashford knew that, while a step in the right direction, the pardon of Mr. Alan Turing OBE was only the beginning of this process. To truly address this issue, comprehensive legislation must be passed by Parliament to fully solve the problem.
Today, Mr. Speaker, that legislation is before us. With today's legislation, the government has taken the critical step of righting this historic wrong. Because of this legislation, the government will be able to fully pardon all those Britons wrongly convicted for a crime that never should have been a crime in the first place. This is a powerful move forward; a legitimate legal act to offer long over due pardons, and a clear sign that Britain is moving closer to becoming a society where all people are treated equally.
I concur with the Secretary of State, Mr. Speaker, that it likely will never be possible for this country to fully apologize for the damage inflicted upon the LGBTQ community. Past legislation which aimed to criminalize homosexuality, and oppress individuals simply for being who they are, will always be a sad part of this country's history. I stand here today to make clear that the criminalization of homosexuality is wrong, it has always been wrong, and Britain must endeavor to fight against homophobia here at home and around the world. If there is anything we can do to truly right this wrong, it is to become a government that actively fights for the acceptance and equality of all LGBTQ people here in Britain and across the globe.
I commend this legislation to the House, Mr. Speaker, and sincerely wish that my colleagues on both sides of the House will join the government in supporting the legislation's passage.
I rose earlier to add my comments to the Right Honourable Member's motion and I will gladly rise again to do so with regards to this legislation. Whilst Alan Turing was a great man who was cruelly treated by a morally bankrupt justice system that targeted people just for being who they were born as there are a great many people who did not receive his plaudits or his fame. This legislation is essential as an apology to all those wrongly convicted who did not happen to head up their respective fields to the point of fame and notoriety.
Mr Speaker, whilst the Government pursues a progressive agenda on LGBT rights that I am proud to associate myself with from the opposition benches there are a great many countries around the World which do not so I ask the Right Honourable Gentleman what he will do in his role as Secretary of State for Justice to help people who face persecution for their sexual identity across the World?
Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire
Leader of the Opposition
Prime Minister (2014)
Parliamentary Experience: Unknown (14)
Media Experience: Capable (45)
Policy Experience: Unknown (13)
I rise in complete opposition to this bill. These people do not deserve a pardon at all. They broke the law at that time, and that is that! Regardless of who they were, they have either had sex with other men when it was illegal to do so, or they have had sex with what was considered to be underaged men at that time. We would not arrest people who committed a "crime" before it was made illegal, so therefore we should not exonerate those who have committed crimes, simply because they are no longer illegal. If a man has sex with another man when it was illegal, then he is a criminal and should be treated as such. If a man had sex with a man who was 20 or under, when the age of consent was 21 then he is a criminal and should be treated as such.
I understand that we live in a more liberal, and understanding, world than we did a few decades ago, but we cannot allow ourselves to be roped into this weak-willed, wishy-washy, disrespect of our law. If one does something when it is illegal, they do not deserve to be pardoned, when it is made legal!
MP for Woking 2005 -
TOTAL EXPERIENCE 42
Some laws are evil. Some laws, and the punishments and sanctions attached to those laws, show the most basic disrespect to the rights and dignity of individuals. Mr Speaker, we cannot be saccharine about our past. We cannot view it through rose tinted glasses. Of course, neither can we view it through hopelessly jaded and cynical lenses, either. And as we acknowledge the towering intellect and commendable bravery of Alan Turing - and the countless contributions of thousands of other gay and bisexual individuals throughout our nation's history - we must also acknowledge the terrible cost of the crimes the state committed against them, first in criminalising an innate part of who they were, secondly by devising villainous punishments and vile degrees of alienation and ostracism for them to endure.
This bill is something that has cross-party support. People from all backgrounds, all political persuasions, have acknowledged that this remains a blemish on our nation's past. Not only is each individual story a tragedy, but it adds up, to a horrendous stain on our nation's professed allegiance to human rights and individual dignity. It damages our integrity. It damages our nation's professed tolerance, and our capacity to cultivate talent and innovation, that these crimes remain on the book.
Those convicted under a wrongful law have suffered a great miscarriage of justice - it is not one remediable by the traditional bounds of the legal system, and so it falls on us in Parliament to act. I urge my colleagues to support this measure.
Graham Adiputera (Lib Dem - Sutton and Cheam)
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Climate Change
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Technology
Parliamentary - 20
Media - 36
Policy - 26
While it gives me no pleasure to rise in opposition to comments made by a member of my own party, I feel that I have no choice but to address the arguments made by the Member of Parliament for Woking.
The honorable Member argues, Mr. Speaker, that the legislation before us represents a, "weak willed, wishy-washy, disrespect of our laws." A modern, democratic society seeking to right historical wrongs via their formal legislative process is anything but "weak willed." The government is introducing a legislative measure, before the Parliament of our country, where the people's representatives will deliberate on that measure. The legislation calls on utilizing pardons, which were created for the express purpose of being able to retroactively write past wrongs, to legally correct a mistake made by Parliament.
This legislation does not disrespect our legal system, Mr. Speaker, rather it is a testament to the fortitude and value of a parliamentary democracy. It is a case study in democratic values, and the physical representation of the idea that in a democracy, the minority can be protected from the tyranny of the majority.
And that is what we are doing, Mr. Speaker; fighting back against a former system of tyranny. Whether he intended it to or not, the argument made by the Member for Woking that "the law is the law," is the argument used by tyrants. The idea that because something has been codified into law it must not be challenged, argued against, or disrespected. Just as the laws allowing for slavery, prohibiting women from voting, and legalizing state oppression against the followers of certain religions could not be challenged or retroactively voided because "the state knows best," Mr. Speaker.
Well the government does not always know best, and when the government is wrong, action must be taken to correct that wrongdoing. And voiding these evils laws is not enough, that is simply the bear minimum. Real justice, real writing of past wrongs, means actively making amends for the harm caused on behalf of the government. Offering these pardons does just that; it allows the government, acting not outside but within the legal structures of our democracy, to provide legal recourse for those who were wronged.
It is legally right, and it is morally just, Mr. Speaker.
Albeit it too late for many Britons, today's legislation provides legal and meaningful justice to thousands of wrongly convicted people. That is not an affront to our law-abiding society, it is a testament to its enduring strength.
Just because something is the law, doesn't make it right. For far too long the Government and her opposition have sat silent on the issue of this despicable disrespect and disregard towards the LGBT community. As a citizen, and as a Member of Parliament, I could not be prouder to support this bill as it moves to transcend partisan politics, and proves that we are one people, united by a common goal to build a brighter future for all, whilst not ignoring our past crimes.
Unfortunately, there are some honorable members among us who do not feel the same. For example, the Honorable Member for Woking would rather us sit on our hands, and let injustice reign upon those who who came before us, simply because it was the law. Does the Honorable Member for Woking also believe that we should ignore the cries of the millions of people across the globe who are persecuted for their religious and personal beliefs because it is a crime to hold such beliefs in their country? There are numerous examples of these frivolous attacks on human life, both in the past and present, which are based upon arbitrary guidelines.
I, for one, will not sit by and groan like the Honorable Member for Woking. I believe that we have a duty to repay our debt to the LGBT community, and this bill is the first step in that direction. I would like to praise my Conservative colleagues who have done their due diligence in this case to ensure that we the proper path paved for social justice and success.
Rhys Bishop MP | Labour Party
Member of Parliament for Birmingham Ladywood (2010 - Present)
Parliamentary: Unknown (14)
Media: Unknown (6)
Policy: Unknown (7)
“A smiling lie is a whirlwind, easy to enter, but hard to escape.” - D. Stojanovic
I must rise in strong support of this legislation, from a Government that I am proud to be a member of.
Utilizing pardons in this scenario is something that would make logical sense, considering the way British society has moved forward on this issue. The people of this great United Kingdom have made their decision, loud and clear, that having legal offences for these sort of acts were not only mistaken, but morally unjust. If we are going to say, going forward, that it would unjust to continue to punish people for these sorts of acts, why would we continue to punish people for violations of a law that our society deems morally unjust?
The Secretary of State has stated it very clearly before me- "actively making amends for the harm caused." One of the great things about democracy is that it allows us to go back and correct past wrongs, and this is an issue where this certainly needs to happen, and that is what this bill does. I look forward to its swift passage through this House.
Conservative Member of Parliament for Portsmouth North
Secretary of State for Public Services
Parliamentary Unknown- 11 points
Media Unknown- 19 points
Policy Novice- 21 points
I am afraid that the arguments put forward appear to be weak-willed. This Bill is disrespectful of the law, I am afraid. A pardon, to me, is where somebody is pardoned because they were wrongly convicted, in that they didn't do the things they were believed to have done. That is not the case with homosexuals who willingly broke the law. Regadless of whether it was genuine love, or just a one-night stand is immaterial - they broke the law, and that is that.
MP for Woking 2005 -
TOTAL EXPERIENCE 42