In a proposed bill that would wipe many a criminal record clean, Britain's Equality Minister Lynne Featherstone wants to retroactively expunge any convictions for violating age-of-consent laws that for decades discriminated against gays. While gay sex was decriminalized in some parts of the U.K. in the 1960s (and other parts in the 1980s), the age of consent stood at 21, then was pushed to 18 in 1994, and finally down to 16 in 2000 — which is the age-of-consent for heteros. But anyone found guilty of violating the law in years past still had a tarnished record, and before 2003 was included on the Sex Offenders Register. Prime Minister David Cameron, who made a stab at gay outreach during his election, will thus make good on a campaign promise. Is this a big deal? Absolutely. A 22-year-old man who had sex with a 20-year-old man in 1993 would still, to this day, be forced to reveal his criminal record to potential employers, who — you guessed it — would be inclined to deny a job to a sex offender. Says Featherstone: "Such men will never again have to disclose that information. I hope very much that those gay men whom that has inhibited from volunteering will now find that inhibition removed."
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