There have been many aspects of our history that we look back on and ask ‘why did we do that?’ The criminalising of men for what they did in private is surely one of those things. The offences were removed from the statute book decades ago and those affected can apply for the cautions or convictions to be removed from their record.
Yesterday, a Scottish Nationalist MP brought forward a Bill which if passed would result in all those convicted of such offences being pardoned. It was an extensive and interesting debate. Those in favour of the Bill put their case eloquently and with great passion and at times great humour. There was little time for alternative views to be put. I take the view that we should not try and re-write history and as I pointed out in the debate not everyone who was affected wants a pardon. They do not believe they did anything wrong in the first place.
The debate was still continuing when time ran out and it stands little chance of becoming law. The government intend to introduce a clause to the Policing and Crime Bill which will pardon all those who were cautioned or convicted and who have now died. The living can apply for their record to be expunged under the existing law and where they do so successfully they will also be pardoned.