What is the Pardons Bill?

The Scottish Government have announced that they will introduce a bill in the Scottish Parliament in the next few months which will pardon people convicted of the historical discriminatory “homosexual offences”. This will be called the Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) (Scotland) Bill. Some people call it the “Turing Bill”, after the computer scientist and WW2 code-breaker, Alan Turing, who received a personal posthumous pardon in 2013.

We expect that the Scottish bill will have two parts:

One part will grant a formal, symbolic, pardon to any person who was convicted in the past for an offence related to sexual activity between males, if it is no longer a crime. This should include a range of things that were crimes in the past, including consensual sex between adult men in private, and offences such as “importuning” (chatting up another man), and things like kissing in public.

The pardon will apply to everyone convicted of such offences in Scotland, whether they are still living, or died before the pardons bill comes into effect.

The pardon will not apply to things that are crimes now, including sexual assaults, and sexual activity in a place where it is likely to offend members of the public.

The pardon will also apply to people who were not prosecuted, but instead received a formal warning from the police or from the procurator fiscal (PF), or who agreed some other penalty with the PF, such as a fiscal fine, “medical treatment”, or unpaid work, for the offence.

The second part of the bill will allow people who receive the pardon to apply to remove the details from their criminal record. This is called a “disregard”. This will be particularly useful for people who need criminal record checks for purposes of work or volunteering. To apply, you will need to fill in the details of the “offence” on a form, and the Scottish Government will then check that what you did is no longer a crime, and will then remove it from your record.

The Equality Network would like to know your views on this bill, whether or not it would directly affect you. 

All responses will be kept confidential, and any information used from your answers in our work will be fully anonymised.