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More people eligible to have historical homosexuality convictions wiped

Under the changes, women will also be eligible to apply for the scheme.

Moves to make more people eligible to be pardoned for historical crimes linked to homosexual activity have come into force.

From Tuesday, anyone convicted or cautioned for abolished offences linked to same sex activity can apply for their records to be wiped.

More veterans will also be able to apply for convictions brought under service law to be erased.

Under the plans, first announced last year, those who were unjustly criminalised will be pardoned and their convictions deleted from official records.

Minister for Safeguarding, Sarah Dines, said: “The appalling criminalisation of homosexuality is a shameful and yet not so distant part of our history.

“Although they can never be undone, the disregards and pardons scheme has gone some way to right the wrongs of the past.

“I am proud that from today the scheme has been significantly widened to include more repealed offences.

“I invite all of those who were convicted or cautioned for same-sex sexual activity under an abolished offence to come forward and apply.”

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Johnny Mercer said: “The treatment of LGBT armed forces personnel and veterans prior to 2000 was wholly unacceptable, and today’s announcement is a clear demonstration of progress in righting these wrongs.

“I will continue working to ensure Government meets its commitment to value and recognise every veteran’s service and experience.”

Since 2012, men have been able to apply to have their convictions or cautions for consensual sex with another man disregarded, and last year changes were announced to widen the range of civilian and service offences under the scheme, as well as allowing women to apply.

A disregard applies to offences where the other party was 16 or over and the activity is not a crime today.

Craig Jones, executive chair and Caroline Paige, chief executive of Fighting With Pride, said: “This extension to the disregards and pardons scheme and its inclusion of female veterans is welcome and another small step in the right direction.

“We will continue to work very closely with the Ministry of Defence and other government departments to ensure the vulnerable veterans in this cohort get all the support available to them.”

Rob Cookson, deputy chief executive of the LGBT Foundation said: “People should never be criminalised simply for who they are and who they love.

“The criminalisation of gay men made a huge, terrible impact on many people in our community.

“It is only right that the disregards and pardons scheme has been widened.”

Those who wish to apply to the scheme can do so by filling in a form on gov.uk.

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