Pardons and disregards for convictions for sexual activity between men

Last updated: 15 October 2019

Pardon for convictions for sexual activity between men

The Scottish Government has given a pardon to all men with convictions for same-sex sexual activity that is now legal. For example, men with convictions for having sex with or chatting up another man. The pardon applies to the living and the dead. It is automatic, so you do not need to apply for it.

The pardon is symbolic. It means that the Government accepts these convictions were discriminatory and should never have happened. However, these convictions could still show up on records. For example, 'enhanced disclosure' checks by Disclosure Scotland.

You'll need to apply for a 'disregard' if you want to remove a conviction for sexual activity with another man from your records.

Apply for a disregard for a conviction for sexual activity with a man

Apply for a disregard at gov.scot to get a conviction for same-sex sexual activity removed from your records. You'll also find a detailed guide to applying here.

To get a paper copy of the application form and guide posted to you, please either:

What happens when you get a disregard

If your application for a disregard is successful it means:

  • your conviction for sexual activity with another man will be removed from your criminal and court records
  • it will not show on enhanced disclosures or any other criminal record checks issued by Disclosure Scotland
  • you will never need to disclose the conviction – for example during job applications or court hearings

Disregards are different from pardons. They are not automatic. If you want a disregard you'll need to apply for it.

Who can get a disregard

If you've been convicted of same-sex sexual activity that is now legal, you can get a disregard. For example, if you were convicted for having sex with or chatting up another man. Trans women and non-binary people who have been convicted for these actions can also get a disregard.

You cannot get a disregard for anything that is still illegal, for example sex in a public place.

A conviction includes:

  • being found guilty of an offence in criminal proceedings
  • alternatives to prosecution, including warnings by police or the procurator fiscal and conditional offers of fixed penalty
  • being found to have committed an offence at a children's hearing

Visit gov.scot and read the eligibility information to see a list of convictions you may get a disregard for.

Appealing against a decision about a disregard

If your application for a disregard is unsuccessful, you can ask for it to be reviewed.

Please either:

Explain why you think the decision is wrong, and include any extra information about the case that you have not already sent us.

If you still disagree with the decision after the review, you can appeal to the Sheriff Court. A legal professional can advise you on how to do this. Find out how to get legal advice.

Convictions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

The information on this page only applies to convictions in Scotland.

If you were convicted in England or Wales, apply for a disregard on gov.uk.

If you were convicted in Northern Ireland, apply for a disregard on nidirect.gov.uk.

Military convictions

Visit gov.uk to apply for a disregard for a military conviction.

Letters of comfort for people who have died

You cannot apply for a disregard for a family member or partner who has died. However, you can apply for a letter of comfort. This letter will state that they should never have been convicted of their offence.

To apply for a letter of comfort, please use the contact details below.

Contact details

Contact us by email or post to:

  • get a paper application form for a disregard posted to you
  • ask for a review of an unsuccessful disregard application
  • apply for a letter of comfort for someone who has died

Email: section5applications@gov.scot

Post: Criminal Law & Practice Team Area GW.14 St Andrews House Regent Road Edinburgh EH1 3DG

Get support

LGBT Health and Wellbeing offer advice and support for men with historical convictions for same-sex activity. Get in touch by phone or email:

LGBT Helpline: 0300 123 2523. Open every Tuesday and Wednesday from 12pm to 9pm.

Email: helpline@lgbthealth.org.uk