"Pardoning" gays

Bear in mind that in most cases, the people offering the apology are not the same people who were responsible for creating or upholding the past injust law. A heartfelt apology would in some ways, be false.

This comes down to terminology. In the good old days, before this whole tiresome “court of criminal appeal” business, the only way to get a conviction reversed was by executive action, and the name of that action was “pardon”. So “pardons” were issued in cases where people were known to be absolutely not guilty in any sense, and nobody thought the issue of a “pardon” to them reinforced perceptions of their guilt.

Nowadays, of course, we do have courts of appeal, and they are the first avenue for reversing wrongful/mistaken convictions. But there are still cases where, for technical or procedural reasons, a reversal isn’t available through the courts, and the reversal effected by executive action, and it’s still called a “pardon”.

What we have in this instance is slightly different. We don’t have new evidence here, showing that the people convicted never did what was alleged. Rather, while we presume that they did do what was alleged, we no longer think that it deserved criminalisation or punishment. Therefore, we reverse their convictions. And, if we do it by executive action, it’s a “pardon”, because that’s what the term “pardon” means - executive reversal of a conviction.

I get that people may be uncomfortable with the terminology, because the technical/jargon usage of the word - executive reversal of a judicial conviction - is not the same as the common parlance usage - gracious forgiveness of merited guilt/punishment. But the horse has long bolted on that one; lots of entirely innocent people have been granted pardons in the past.

I don’t think all of the people pardoned are dead. For those who are alive getting this off their record is a good thing.

  1. Fuck yeah, this is overall a good thing. Analogous to the reparations paid to Japanese-American internees. Doesn’t correct the original wrong, but tries to atone for it. Shit, give any of these guys who are living some cash while you’re at it, Brits.
  2. If any of the pardoned that are alive take issue (and people have raised good arguments why they might), totally support them throwing that pardon back in the government’s face, like a soldier tossing their medals.

I understand the “pardon” stuff. Is it not possible for the British government to “exonerate” people? And if they do not have the power to exonerate, isn’t “pardon” the most/best they can do?

The guy quoted in the article said, “We have apologised.” He should have said something in the present tense. “We apologise.” As others here have noted, a mere pardon doesn’t impugn the law; it impugns the “criminal.”

They should have acknowledged that the law itself was bad. Instead, they white-washed this.

(It’s still a good thing; it just could – and should – have been better.)

The government did in fact directly apologise and acknowledge that the law was bad:

Yes, I do agree with it. And I’m not quite sure why pardon should be in inverted commas in the OP. They were real pardons for real crimes. That it shouldn’t have been a crime in the first place is true, but it was and thus real pardons were needed.

Super! That didn’t seem to be in the article linked above. I’m very satisfied, now, with this.

Yes, if done respectfully. It should be a full acknowledgement that the fault was completely the gov’t and the pardons are to apologize for the mistreatment.

I view it similarly to the pardons that were done for soldiers convicted of cowardice.

Exoneration means ‘finding not guilty’, which in this context would I think mean only saying that the law was wrong to have convicted them of being gay.

Except they don’t. The pardon is automatic only for people who are dead (who probably don’t care).

Living people will have to apply thru bureaucratic channels* to be pardoned’. And the ‘pardons’ don’t reverse all of the consequences of the original charge. For example, if you were kicked out of the military for being gay, and denied the military pension you had earned, you are now ‘pardoned’ – but you still aren’t eligible for tht pension.

*And pay fees, no doubt.

But they weren’t wrongfully convicted, it was actually a crime back then. Simply making it “not a crime” decades later doesn’t change their status. A pardon like this is an official acknowledgement that it should never have been a crime, and they are no longer considered criminals.