Thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted under the UK's historical anti-gay laws have been posthumously pardoned after the so-called "Turing's Law" took effect today (January 31).
The "historic moment" was confirmed by the Ministry of Justice
after the Policing and Crime Bill received Royal Assent from the Queen.
The legislation - first announced last year
- pardons an estimated 49,000 men convicted of consensual same-sex relations before the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales in 1967.
It also offers statutory pardons to people who are still alive, although they must apply through the Home Office's disregard process to have historical offences removed.
Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said: "This is a truly momentous day. We can never undo the hurt caused, but we have apologised and taken action to right these wrongs."
"I am immensely proud that 'Turing’s Law’ has become a reality under this government."
Turing's Law takes its name from British World War Two code-breaker Alan Turing, who took his own life in 1954, less than two years after being convicted of gross indecency and undergoing effective chemical castration.
After Turing received a Royal Pardon in 2013, calls grew for legislation to be implemented to pardon all men convicted under the laws.
UK-based LGBT charity Stonewall said of the news: "This is significant. And it’s as important to the whole lesbian, gay, bi and trans community, as it is for the gay and bi men affected. The more equality is enshrined into our law books, the stronger our equality becomes, and the stronger we as a community become.
"Earlier this month the Government issued a clear and powerful apology to every gay and bi man who had been unjustly criminalised for being who they are.
"This is not just equality for gay and bi men; the passing of this law is justice."
The news comes almost two years after Turing’s family, joined by Attitude's
then-editor Matthew Todd, delivered a petition to Downing Street
- signed by more than half a million people - calling for posthumous pardons of gay men.
You can apply to remove convictions and cautions for gross indecency by downloading this form
and submitting it to the Home Office.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, we’re interviewing 12 of our all-time heroes who’ve changed the face of LGBT life for people in Britain and around the globe. You can download and listen to episode one, featuring 'Lord of the Rings' star Sir Ian McKellen, below:
Sir Ian McKellen talks life before legalisation in first ever episode of Attitude Heroes
Sydney gay killings of ’80s and ’90s inspired new Australian drama ‘Deep Water’