Friday, October 21, 2016

A blow against bigotry in the UK

The UK government has agreed to pardon gay men convicted of historic offences:

Thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted under outdated gross indecency laws are to be posthumously pardoned, the Government has announced, in a “momentous” victory for campaigners.

Announcing what has been dubbed as the ‘Alan Turing law’ justice minister Sam Gyimah said the Government would seek to implement the change through an amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill. It will effectively act as an apology to those convicted for consensual same-sex relationships before homosexuality was decriminalised in England and Wales in 1967.


In another step, the Government is also announcing that it will introduce a new statutory pardon for the living in cases where offences have been successfully deleted through the disregard process.

Mr Gyimah added: “It is hugely important that we pardon people convicted of historical sexual offences who would be innocent of any crime today. Through pardons and the existing disregard process we will meet our manifesto commitment to put right these wrongs.”

Righting this historic wrong is a great step forward for justice in the UK, and a blow against bigotry. But what about New Zealand? There's a petition currently before the Justice and Electoral Committee, but the government's response has been to dismiss it as "too hard". National thinks it is far easier to let these people carry the burden of their unjust convictions than to act to correct them - and that's just wrong. These people were convicted of things that should never have been criminal in the first place. The government has wronged them, and it needs to right that wrong and apologise. If the UK can do it, then so can we.