Indiana Daily Student

Man fights homosexuality conviction from 1959 Britain

He was convicted of a crime more than half a century ago, but what he did in 1959 — have consensual sex with another man — would be perfectly legal today.

So John Crawford, 70, said he wants his criminal record cleaned up for good so he doesn’t have to disclose his conviction when he seeks volunteer work and because of a deeply held belief that he should not be punished for his sexual orientation.

“I came into this world without a criminal record and I’d like to leave this world without one,” Crawford said. “The police beat me and beat me and forced me to confess to being gay, but I know in my heart I did nothing wrong.”

Crawford’s bid to clean up his record is backed by gay organizations looking to help others who were convicted under Britain’s once-draconian anti-homosexuality laws, which began to be eased in 1967 as social values changed and sex acts between consenting adults began to be decriminalized.

“These laws were homophobic in the first place, that’s why they were rescinded, but the laws are still penalizing people,” said Deborah Gold, director of gay rights group Galop. “We’ve always had a regular trickle of people asking about it, how to get their records cleaned up.”

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