The policy is known as "Turing's Law" after the celebrated mathematician and World War Two codebreaker Alan Turing, who was stripped of his job and chemically castrated after being convicted of gross indecendy in 1952 for having sex with a man. Turing killed himself two years later, aged 41.
Homosexual acts were decriminalized in England in 1967 and it was not until 2001 that the age of consent for homosexuals was lowered to 16, the same as for heterosexuals. "This is a truly momentous day. We can never undo the hurt caused, but we have apologized and taken action to right these wrongs," said Sam Gyimah, a junior justice minister, in a statement on Tuesday. "I am immensely proud that 'Turing's Law' has become a reality under this government."