Expunge homosexual importuning convictions, home secretary told

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Jul 28, 2017
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The so-called Alan Turing law, named after the Second World War codebreaker who was played by Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game, allowed many past convictions for homosexual acts to be expunged

Jack English/AP

Ministers must amend the law so that gay men convicted in the past of importuning can have their criminal records expunged, campaigning lawyers say today.

In a letter to the home secretary, the Public Law Project, a charity, says that many men are still affected by convictions for soliciting or importuning under the Sexual Offences Act 1956. Those crimes were not included in a list of offences that could be “disregarded” under the Policing and Crime Act 2017, the legislation that allowed most past offences for homosexual acts to be expunged, despite the offence of importuning being abolished in 2003.

Lawyers at the charity have told Amber Rudd that they act for a client whose conviction remains on police national computer records and is disclosed by disclosure and barring service checks.

The Public Law Project says in its letter to the home secretary: “Our client is unable to apply to the Home Office under the disregard scheme which allows men with historic convictions for consensual gay sex offences to apply have them disregarded, because the offence of importuning is not one of those to which the scheme applies.”

In an article in The Brief today, Katy Watts, a solicitor with the charity, argues that amending the law would be relatively easy. She also says that the move would be warmly welcomed in the 50th anniversary year of the legislation that partially decriminalised homosexuality in the UK.

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