Gay men can now clear their name

By Charles Maggs

Men convicted of having consensual gay sex can now have their offences quashed, under a new law designed to clear up historic injustices.

The Protection of Freedoms Act comes into force today, increasing the number of historic offences which can be stricken from the record.

"By correcting these historic injustices we can start to bring closure to a very sad period of this country’s history," said Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay rights campaign group Stonewall.

"We never forget that the equality we enjoy today came too late for many."

Chapter four of the Act gives anyone convicted of buggery, which ceased to be illegal in 1956, the opportunity to apply to the secretary of state to have the conviction overturned.

The new law also applies to those convicted of 'loitering with intent' under the vagrancy act – a law that dates back to 1824.