The call comes from human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
“Around 100,000 men were convicted of consenting homosexual behaviour following the outlawing in 1885 of all sexual acts between men; with 15,000 of these men being convicted after the Sexual Offences Act was legislated in 1967,” he said.
“The criminalisation of homosexuality did not end across the whole of the UK until 2013.
“These men deserve an apology and compensation for the terrible persecution they suffered. Many were jailed and nearly all endured devastating knock-on consequences. They often lost their jobs and became near unemployable and semi-destitute because of the stigma associated with having a conviction for a homosexual offence. Some experienced the break-up of their marriages and lost custody and access to their children. Families and friends disowned them and they were abused and sometimes assaulted in the street. Many descended into a downward spiral of depression, alcoholism, mental illness and suicide or attempted suicide. The psychological and emotional scars were devastating and long lasting. That’s why they need and deserve a Prime Ministerial apology – and state compensation,” said Mr Tatchell.
Read Peter Tatchell’s comprehensive, detailed exposure of the intensified police and judicial persecution of gay and bisexual men post-1967.
“The gross indecency law of 1885 had been used to convict the computer genius Alan Turing in 1952 and, before him, to jail the playwright Oscar Wilde in 1895. Together with the criminalisation of anal sex, the gross indecency law was finally repealed in England and Wales by the Sexual Offences Act 2003. As a result, for the first time in 470 years these two nations had a criminal code that did not penalise gay sexuality.
“In Northern Ireland, the ban on anal sex was finally repealed in 2008. Scotland’s anti-gay laws were abolished in 2009 but, in the case of sodomy, did not take effect until 2013. Gay sex ceased to be a crime across the whole of the UK only four years ago – 46 years after 1967,” said Mr Tatchell.