Isle of Man pardons gay men convicted under historic sex offences laws

Full pardons have been granted for men who were convicted of homosexual activity in the Isle of Man before the law was changed in 1994.

Anyone cautioned or convicted of a historical sexual offence will be automatically pardoned if the act is no longer considered a crime in modern law, from 30 June.

The measure will also apply to those who have since died.

In 2020, the Isle of Man's then Chief Minister Howard Quayle apologised in Tynwald, the Island's Parliament, to those who had been convicted.

Minister for Justice and Home Affairs Jane Poole-Wilson said: "I hope that these automatic pardons will help to address at least some of the hurt caused by our historical laws."

She said: "It is very difficult to accept how it was once common place for people to be criminalised in this way.

"Our society has progressed and become much more inclusive and tolerant than when these discriminatory laws were in place, but we still have work to do to protect everyone in our community."

The Isle of Man parliament passed a law decriminalising homosexuality in 1992 - 27 years after the same law was passed in England.

In addition to the pardons, people will also be able to apply to the Department of Home Affairs to have any historical conviction removed from their record.

It means that any conviction, caution, warning or reprimand would be considered as having never happened, and would not appear on a criminal record or in any criminal record checks.

The process is expected to take no longer than 12 weeks.

Alan Shea, a gay rights campaigner in the Isle of Man said it was a step in the right direction.

"They should be sent a letter today, saying that we have cleared this from your permanent record and that would make life a lot easier. Because now they may have to apply, that means raking up the past, people that never knew their past history, it's getting complicated."

Automatic pardons and disregards will not apply to any convictions where the offence would still be considered a crime, such as non-consensual sex and having sex with someone aged under 16.

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