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UK expands pardons for consensual sex between same-sex partners

Conditions will still need to be met for a pardon to be granted, including that the sexual activity must not have been aged 16 or under

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10 Downing Street, center-point of the UK government & home to the Prime Minister (Photo Credit: UK Government)

LONDON – The U.K. government announced that it was amending the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, adding categories of persons eligible to expunge the records of people who were convicted of crimes related to consensual homosexual activity.

U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel, a Tory cabinet member noted in a statement released Monday: “It is only right that where offences have been abolished, convictions for consensual activity between same-sex partners should be disregarded too.

“I hope that expanding the pardons and disregards scheme will go some way to righting the wrongs of the past and to reassuring members of the LGBT+ community that Britain is one of the safest places in the world to call home.”

There were initially only nine crimes involving homosexual sex that were pardonable starting in 2012. Then in 2017, Parliament passed and the Queen gave Royal Assent to a law named after famed gay mathematician, pioneering computer scientist and Second World War codebreaker Dr. Alan Turing. Known as ‘Turing’s law,’ it granted posthumous pardons to others who were convicted of sexual acts that are no longer deemed criminal under British law.

However, activists and civil rights/LGBTQ campaigners argued the crimes covered by the scheme were too narrow as the law only covered nine former offences included on a specified list, with a large focus on the repealed offences of buggery and gross indecency between men, PinkNewsUK reported.

PinkNewsUK also reported that the amendment will broaden the criteria to “include any repealed or abolished civilian or military offence imposed on someone purely for, or due to, consensual homosexual activity.”

“Conditions will still need to be met in order for a disregard and pardon to be granted, including that the sexual activity must not constitute an offence today and anyone else involved must have been aged 16 or over.”

Word of the decision was celebrated by the co-founder of the U.K. LGBTQ rights organization Stonewall, Out member of the House of Lords, Michael Maurice Cashman on Twitter:

“6 years work by Lord Lexden, Prof Paul Johnson of Leeds, & me to widen pardons & disregards for historical homosexual convictions to become law. UK did so much wrong; reputations & lives can finally be uplifted.”

Another prominent member of Parliament’s Upper House of Lords also noted the annoucenment:

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Britain bids farewell to Queen Elizabeth II, an iconic monarch

Jordan’s King Abdullah II, remembered the Queen as an “iconic leader” and “beacon of wisdom and principled leadership”

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The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II draped in the Royal Standard during her funeral services at Westminster Abbey (Screenshot live feed/Press Pool)

LONDON – World leaders joined Britain’s Royal family and 2,000 other dignitaries for the hourlong state funeral service of Queen Elizabeth II in tributes and prayer at Westminster Abbey Monday.

The King, Charles III, accompanied by his Queen-Consort Camilla, the Prince of Wales William with his wife Kate and their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte, the King’s siblings Anne, Princess Royal, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, the King’s younger son, Harry, Duke of Sussex, their wives and the extended royal family escorted the coffin into the services and later attended the private interment at the Royal vault at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle where the deceased monarch will rest alongside her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

The King accompanied by Queen-Consort Camilla is seen here with his sister Anne, Princess Royal during state funeral services for their mother Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey Sept. 19, 2022.
(Screenshot live feed/Press Pool)

The state funeral was attended by numerous heads of state including the new U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss, U.S. President Joe Biden and the First Lady Jill Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, were also present.

Leaders of most Commonwealth countries attended, with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese making the nearly 24-hour journey from the other side of the globe.

In addition to political and other dignitaries including other European royals attended along with Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako. Japanese news outlet Asahi Shimbun reported, citing Imperial Household Agency officials, that a Japanese emperor has only attended the funeral of a foreign head of state or royal family member on one previous occasion, when then-Emperor Akihito attended the funeral of Belgian King Baudouin in 1993.

Spain’s King Felipe VI and his wife Queen Letizia were among the European royals who attended. Former Spanish King Juan Carlos I and former Queen Sofia were be present. The former King is the great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria and a distant cousin of Queen Elizabeth II.

Reuters reported that Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who remembered the Queen as an “iconic leader” and “beacon of wisdom and principled leadership,” also attended.

The Nave of Westminster Abbey, during state funeral services for Queen Elizabeth II
(Screenshot live feed/Press Pool)

Elizabeth II oversaw a significant change in the role of the monarch and Britain’s place on the world stage in the 70 years she was on the throne. Reuters noted that the 40th sovereign in a line that traces its lineage back to 1066, Elizabeth came to the throne in 1952 and became Britain’s first post-imperial monarch.

She oversaw her nation trying to carve out a new place in the world, and she was instrumental in the emergence of the Commonwealth of Nations, now a grouping comprising 56 countries.

She guided her government over the administrations of 15 Prime Ministers starting with Sir Winston Churchill and ending with her asking Liz Truss to form a government as Prime Minister only a couple of days before her death at Balmoral Castle, her summer home in the Scottish highlands.

The Queen’s legacy in regards to the LGBTQ+ community was complicated

In 1952, when she took the throne after the death of her father, King George VI, same-sex sexual relations were criminalized in Britain. The same laws were also brought to the Commonwealth countries that it colonized, NBC Out reported.

By the time she died, the landscape for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer rights looked dramatically different — at least in the United Kingdom — in part because she approved of many pro-LGBTQ measures, such as same-sex marriage. That support has led some to argue that she was a “quiet” supporter of LGBTQ rights, but to others she was just doing her job.

Elizabeth, among other things, pardoned Alan Turing, an acclaimed World War II codebreaker and computer scientist who died by suicide two years after his 1952 conviction for “gross indecency.” 

Elizabeth gave royal assent to the Sexual Offenses Act of 1967, which decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations among men in England and Wales who are at least 21.

Elizabeth gave royal assent to the marriage equality law that took effect in England and Wales in 2014. Elizabeth has also urged the U.K. to ban so-called conversion therapy.

Additional reporting by Michael Lavers, Reuters, AFP, and NBC News Out

Queen Elizabeth II’s Funeral at London’s Westminster Abbey – LIVE (previously recorded):

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The King’s speech to the UK, the Commonwealth & the world

“Thank you for your love and devotion to our family and to the family of nations you have served so diligently all these years”

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Screenshot/YouTube The Telegraph

LONDON – In his first address as the United Kingdom’s Head-of-State, Charles spoke to the his nation and the global community regarding the death of his beloved mother, Queen Elizabeth II and his commitment to his people as he succeeds her as King.

The Telegraph reported that the broadcast was recorded in the Blue Drawing Room of Buckingham Palace, after the King and Queen-Consort greeted crowds of mourners outside the gates.

In a final message to his mother, the King said: “To my darling Mama, as you begin your last great journey to join my dear late Papa, I want simply to say this: thank you. “Thank you for your love and devotion to our family and to the family of nations you have served so diligently all these years. “May ‘flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest’.”

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United Kingdom

Queen Elizabeth II dies

96-year-old British monarch passed away in Scotland

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Queen Elizabeth II (Public domain photo)

BALMORAL CASTLE, Scotland — Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland at the age of 96.

Elizabeth assumed the British throne in 1952 after her father, King George VI, died.

Elizabeth, among other things, pardoned Alan Turing, an acclaimed World War II codebreaker and computer scientist who died by suicide two years after his 1952 conviction for “gross indecency.” 

Elizabeth gave royal assent to the Sexual Offenses Act of 1967, which decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations among men in England and Wales who are at least 21.

Elizabeth gave royal assent to the marriage equality law that took effect in England and Wales in 2014. Elizabeth has also urged the U.K. to ban so-called conversion therapy.

New British Prime Minister Liz Truss took office on Tuesday.

“We’re all devastated,” she said outside 10 Downing St. “Queen Elizabeth II was the rock on which modern Britain was built.”

British Ambassador to the U.S. Karen Pierce, who has hosted a number of Pride Month receptions in D.C., in a statement said Elizabeth “devoted a lifetime of dedicated service to her country and was an inspiring role model for everyone across the globe.”

“Her legacy is one of charity and compassion,” said Pierce.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May in 2018 said she “deeply” regrets colonial-era laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relations the U.K. introduced in Commonwealth countries.

Court rulings in Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis in recent months struck down colonial-era sodomy laws. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last month said his country would decriminalize consensual same-sex consensual relations.

Jamaica and Uganda are among the Commonwealth countries in which homosexuality remains criminalized.

Jamaica and Uganda are among the Commonwealth countries in which homosexuality remains criminalized. The Privy Council, a British appellate court, in recent years ruled against marriage rights for same-sex couples in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

The two British territories fall under the Privy Council’s jurisdiction.

“We send our deepest condolences to the Royal Family on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” said Stonewall, a British LGBTQ+ and intersex rights group, in a statement after Buckingham Palace announced Elizabeth’s death. “At this sad time we reflect on the the end of a very significant era for the U.K.”

Mermaids, a group that advocates on behalf of Transgender and other gender non-conforming young people, echoed Stonewall.

We’re very sad to hear of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” tweeted Mermaids. “Our thoughts are with King Charles III and all of the Royal Family at this deeply difficult time.”

“While its unfortunate to hear the family has lost a mother, as an LGBT citizen of the commonwealth, she represented institutions like the Privy Council that have reversed LGBT rights protections for Caribbean Countries and territories that still have the Privy Council,” Caleb Orozco, an LGBTQ+ and intersex activist from Belize, told the Washington Blade after Elizabeth died. “The death of a queen does not absolve its institutions from its responsibility to show its substantive commitment to LGBT rights in the Caribbean.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is among the myriad world leaders who also mourned Elizabeth’s passing.

“It was with the heaviest of hearts that we learned of the passing of Canada’s longest-reigning sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” tweeted Trudeau. “She was a constant presence in our lives — and her service to Canadians will forever remain an important part of our country’s history.”

“As we look back at her life and her reign that spanned so many decades, Canadians will always remember and cherish Her Majesty’s wisdom, compassion and warmth,” added Trudeau. “Our thoughts are with the members of the Royal Family during this most difficult time.”

Elizabeth is survived by her four children, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. 

Her eldest son King Charles III, 73, is her heir. Elizabeth’s grandson Prince William is now second in line to the throne.

In Washington President Joe Biden, in a proclamation, ordered that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, on the day of interment.  

The President also directed that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

In a statement issued by the White House, the President noted:

“In a world of constant change, she was a steadying presence and a source of comfort and pride for generations of Britons, including many who have never known their country without her. An enduring admiration for Queen Elizabeth II united people across the Commonwealth. The seven decades of her history-making reign bore witness to an age of unprecedented human advancement and the forward march of human dignity.” Biden added;

“Supported by her beloved Prince Philip for 73 years, Queen Elizabeth II led always with grace, an unwavering commitment to duty, and the incomparable power of her example. She endured the dangers and deprivations of a world war alongside the British people and rallied them during the devastation of a global pandemic to look to better days ahead. Through her dedication to her patronages and charities, she supported causes that uplifted people and expanded opportunity. By showing friendship and respect to newly independent nations around the world, she elevated the cause of liberty and fostered enduring bonds that helped strengthen the Commonwealth, which she loved so deeply, into a community to promote peace and shared values.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom released a statement saying:

“California joins the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, and people around the world in mourning the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. […]

“Throughout her unprecedented seven decades on the throne, Queen Elizabeth remained true to that promise, providing an unwavering source of leadership, inspiration and stability through times of great social change and uncertainty while serving as matriarch to her own family. 

“As we reflect on her incomparable life and legacy, our hearts are with the King and the Queen Consort and the entire Royal Family during this time of great loss,” the governor added.

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