Honours restored to those who had them taken away due to sexuality
It is now possible for honours and medals to be restored to living individuals who had previously been convicted for offences which are no longer against the law. Eligible individuals who had seen their honours forfeited decades ago when it was illegal to be gay can now be pardoned under the provisions of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, the Policing and Crime Act 2017, and the Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) (Scotland) Act 2018, and a valid disregard determination obtained.
Prior to this legislation being enacted, individuals may have had honours or medals removed after receiving convictions for homosexual behaviour that has now been de-criminalised. We are pleased to be introducing a policy which enables individuals to apply to have their medals or honours restored and would invite any individual affected to apply. A key aim for the honours system is to make it more equitable and better representative of UK society.
The criteria for the restoration of honours and medals to living individuals whose conviction(s) have been disregarded/pardoned under these provisions have been approved by the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals (known as HD Committee) and by HM The Queen.
As such, the Forfeiture Committee is able to restore honours and civilian medals and the Defence Council is able to restore military medals, if the below criteria have been met.
An honour or medal will be restored if the application satisfies ALL of the following criteria:
- the applicant can present a valid disregard determination letter from: the Home Office as provided for under Chapter 4 Part 5 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, or the Department of Justice (Northern Ireland) under Chapter 4 Part 5 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (as amended by the Policing and Crime Act 2017); or the Scottish Government under the Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) (Scotland) Act 2018;
- there is no evidence that the individual forfeited the honour or medal for reasons unrelated to the conviction(s) for which the disregard determination has been issued; and
- that the Forfeiture Committee/Defence Council is satisfied that there is no other basis on which the honour or medal should remain forfeited.
Any individual with a valid disregard determination who believes that they are eligible to have an honour or medal restored should apply in writing to email@example.com providing evidence of their valid disregard, along with their full name, address, date of birth, and details regarding which honours or medals were forfeited (such as the name of the honour or medal and the dates of award and forfeiture) and the circumstances under which they were forfeited.
Applications relating to honours and civilian medals will be processed by the Honours and Appointments Secretariat within the Cabinet Office who will work with relevant Government departments to validate and process applications. If an application relates to military medals, this will be passed onto the Ministry of Defence for consideration by the Defence Council.
We protect the integrity of the honours system by carrying out probity checks with a number of government departments, before names are submitted to the Forfeiture Committee. For further details read our privacy notice.
The Forfeiture committee is Chaired by Sir Tom Scholar and has a majority of independent members. Where the Forfeiture Committee feels that evidence is not clearcut, extra information is required to understand the circumstances under which a medal or honour was forfeited, or if there is another basis on which the honour or medal might remain forfeited, applicants will, where appropriate, be given the opportunity to provide further information or representations in writing.
If an application for restoration is recommended by the Forfeiture Committee, we will write to the recipient to inform them and organise for the honour(s) or medal(s) to be restored. Notice of honour(s) and medal(s) restored will be published in the London Gazette and they will be sent the insignia or medals that have been restored to them.
If an application is unsuccessful the applicant will be informed of the decision made by the Forfeiture Committee.
Honours can only be awarded to living members. As such, honours cannot be restored posthumously.
For further information on how to apply for a previous conviction(s) for decriminalised sexual behaviours to be considered for eligibility for a disregard/pardon, please visit:
- https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/disregarding-convictions-for-decriminalised-sexual-offences (England and Wales)
- https://www.gov.scot/publications/remove-historical-conviction-for-sexual-activity-between-men/pages/eligibility/ (Scotland)
- https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/publications/apply-have-certain-convictions-disregarded (Northern Ireland)