Women who were unjustly convicted for same-sex activity in the United Kingdom will be able to apply for a pardon for the first time, the Home Office has announced.

The Disregards and Pardons Scheme initially only applied to men and specific offences, though now offers anyone convicted or cautioned under now-abolished laws related to homosexuality the chance to request a pardon.

The broadening of the scheme, which took effect on 13 June, also applies to veterans who were convicted under service law.

The changes were described as “a significant step forward in addressing the wrongs of the past” by the Home Office.

Convictions will be wiped from official records under the scheme, with individuals also not having to disclose them during court proceedings or when applying for jobs.

This includes offences such as ‘solicitation by men’ which was sometimes used to criminalise same-sex activity between LGBTQ+ men – something that would be seen as no more than “chatting up” between a man and a woman, the Home Office said.

READ MORE: Gay sex convictions under now-abolished laws to be wiped by UK govt

“The appalling criminalisation of homosexuality is a shameful and yet not so distant part of our history,” Sarah Fines, Minister for Safeguarding, said.

“Although they can never be undone, the disregards and pardons scheme has gone some way to right the wrongs of the past.

“I am proud that from today the scheme has been significantly widened to include more repealed offences.

“I invite all of those who were convicted or cautioned for same-sex sexual activity under an abolished offence to come forward and apply.”

“It is only right that the disregards and pardons scheme has been widened”

Men have been able to apply to have their convictions and/or cautions disregarded since 2012.

Such disregards will be granted if certain conditions are met, including that those involved must have been aged 16 or over at the time and that the activity in question does not constitute an offence today.

READ MORE: Britain extends pardons to all men convicted under scrapped gay sex laws

Johnny Mercer, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, described the previous treatment of LGBTQ+ Armed Forces personnel as “wholly unacceptable” and said the expansion of the pardoning scheme “is a clear demonstration of progress in righting these wrongs.”

“I will continue working to ensure government meets its commitment to value and recognise every veteran’s service and experience,” he continued.

Rob Cookson, Deputy Chief Executive of the LGBT Foundation, said it is “only right that the disregards and pardons scheme has been widened” given the “huge, terrible impact” unjust convictions had on members of the LGBTQ+ community.