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    First Published: April 2004
       This is an OutUK Archive Item and so some of the links and information may be out of date.
Campaign group Stonewall has secured a government commitment that gay men who have been unfairly placed on the sex offenders’ register for consensual acts will be “de-registered”.
Currently gay men cautioned or convicted of offences of gross indecency, where one participant is aged between 16 and 18, are made to register as a sex offender. Stonewall launched its campaign for the de-registration of this group at the end of last year and worked with human rights group Liberty and the Liberal Democrats to table amendments to the Sexual Offences Bill to achieve this.
In a debate last week on the Sexual Offences Bill, then Home Office Minister Lord Falconer accepted the case that Stonewall has made, and said: “I recognise that placing a registration requirement on those involved in purely consensual activity with a person who would now be above the age of consent is unfair and unnecessary for the protection of the public. I can assure noble Lords that we are determined to find a solution to the issue that will remove from the register all those who were involved in consensual activity without compromising public protection.”

The Government has now committed to pass the necessary reforms when the Sexual Offences Bill is debated in the House of Commons in the autumn.

Reacting to the Minister’s annoucement, Stonewall’s Chief Executive, Ben Summerskill, said: “Securing a Home Office commitment to de-register gay men who have been unfairly labelled as ‘sex offenders’ is a major achievement. We had to fight long and hard to convince the government that this was a clear injustice. Gay men who have been unfairly placed on the register have had to live with a terrible label that has blighted careers and lives within their local communities. It is in no one’s interests for them to be so wrongly labelled.

“Liberal Democrats Dr Evan Harris MP and Baroness Walmsley fought tirelessly with us to secure this victory. We all owe them a big thank-you.”

The Government will be developing a method for assessing de-registration over the summer.

More on the new Sexual Offences Bill


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