Justin Bengry, ‘Disregarding the Past: The Problems of Pardoning Homosexual Offences’

History of Sexuality seminar

Tuesday 8 October 2019, 5.15pm.

Dreyfus Room, Birkbeck, 28 Russell Square, London WC1B 4HS.  (Please note that this room is on the second floor, and unfortunately there is no lift.)

This seminar is co-hosted with the Parliaments, Politics & People seminar series, and our speaker is Dr Justin Bengry from Goldsmiths, University of London.

Disregarding the Past: The Problems of Pardoning Homosexual Offences

This paper critically examines the 2012 Protection of Freedoms Act, which created the disregard process, and the 2017 Policing and Crime Act, which introduced statutory pardons for some men convicted of some homosexual offences. It demonstrates that amid disagreements among Parliamentarians there has been little willingness on the part of the government to offer more than caveat-laden apologies and limited action to redress past injustices. Despite media releases and popular understandings that place the number of pardons in the tens of thousands, legislation in England and Wales has only impacted a handful of living men. Queer men convicted for activity that included no sexual impropriety continue to be criminalised and denied the opportunity to clear their names. North of the border, however, in Scotland more expansive legislation has been passed that actually builds upon a bill defeated at Westminster, opening up further questions about who is worthy of exoneration.

Sponsored by the Raphael Samuel History Centre. Supported by Birkbeck, Queen Mary, and Goldsmiths

See the full seminar programme

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