Last edited: January 07, 2005

Amnesty for Sex “Offenders”

OutRage! calls on Home Secretary to remove gay men convicted of discriminatory and anti-gay laws from Sex Offenders Register

OutRage! News Service, December 5, 2002
For Immediate Release

LONDONGay Rights group, OutRage! has called on the Home Secretary to reveal how many gay men convicted of unjust and discriminatory sexual offences remain on the Sex Offenders Register and to include amnesty measures to have those that might remain removed.

“The government has made it clear that they plan to ‘strengthen’ the Sex Offenders Register to make it part of a first line of defence against offenders who threaten public safety” says Brett Lock, a spokesperson for OutRage! “The result is that the public now broadly believes that the Register will contain only dangerous sex offenders and those who are a threat to children. But that is not necessarily the case.”

Gay men convicted of breaching the age of consent laws before it was equalised had to remain on the Register. The fact that “re-offending” would no longer be a crime strongly suggests that it is unjust to keep punishing them. Men convicted of gross indecency, buggery or soliciting may also be required to remain on the Sex Offenders Register even after those offences are swept away by the new reforms to the Sexual Offenders Act. The proposals appear to make no concessions to those convicted by these unjust laws that unfairly discriminated against gay men.

The result is that these men whose “crimes” had no victim and were committed with a consenting partner may now find themselves lumped together with rapists and child sex abusers.

“This not only compels them to fulfil the onerous restrictions embodied in the Sexual Offenders Act, but also puts them at risk of vigilante attack.” Says OutRage!’s Peter Tatchell.

OutRage! also believes that not granting amnesty to these people will seriously compromise the effectiveness and usefulness of the Register.

“It makes no sense to undermine its authority by retaining those people whose ‘crimes’ had no victim and whose actions no longer constitute an offence,” OutRage! points out in the letter to Mr Blunkett.

In the letter OutRage! welcomed the proposed reforms to Sexual Offenders Act but pointed out that there is a precedent set by other countries ­ notably South Africa ­ where those convicted of violating unjust laws were able to apply for amnesty in order to avoid continued punishment for having broken laws that society has since come to understand to be morally reprehensible and discriminatory.

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