The recent amendment tabled by Lord Sharkey called for a disregarded conviction to apply posthumously for all those convicted under the unjust homosexuality laws of the past.
So what is a disregarded conviction? Basically it wipes the slate clean. It means that the records are changed so that it is as though the person did not commit the offence, wasn’t charged for it, wasn’t prosecuted and wasn’t sentenced. It has more legal power than a pardon working retrospectively to eliminate the offence from all legal records.
What about a pardon then? A pardon concentrates on releasing an offender from or cancelling the legal consequences of an offence or conviction, but it does not affect the conviction. To illustrate this point I’ve pasted below an excerpt from the statement that Des Browne gave in 2006 regarding the pardon he gave to WWI deserters.
“The pardon would apply to those sentences of execution confirmed and carried out but convictions would not be quashed.”
A pardon has been seen as a be-all and end-all of the Alan Turing campaign but I think, with this knowledge of the subtle differences between the two terms, equal weighting and backing should be given to both. The term ‘pardon’ is more widely known and used than a disregarded conviction, but in my opinion a disregarded conviction should be seen as just as important.