Crawford was charged with a year’s conditional discharge after being convicted of a sexual offense in 1959.
“It was something that gays had to go through in those days. If you were gay, you were in trouble with the police,” Crawford told the BBC. “Gay guys don’t realize how lucky they are to be able to kiss in the street. In my time in the ’50s you’d be arrested instantly.”
Upon applying to volunteer to help gay prisoners [Ed. note: sign us up], Crawford learned that the charge was still haunting him. “I looked back over my life and realized that all the work I’d lost over the years was due to this criminal record.”
Under the newly passed Protection of Freedoms Act, which allows historical convictions for decriminalized consensual sex offenses to be cleared from criminal record checks, Crawford and others affected can apply to the Home Secretary for a formal disregard of their convictions.
“I’m trying to let people know in my situation, in my age group, with a criminal record, that they can do something about it and have it wiped clean,” said Crawford. “I came into this world without a criminal record and I don’t want to die with a criminal record.”