A 93-year-old man has received an apology for his homosexual conviction after a 43 year long battle.
George Montague, dubbed the ‘oldest gay in the village’, has been given an “abject apology” in a letter from the Home Office.
Mr Montague was convicted in 1974 of gross indecency with a man and has fought ever since for an apology.
The government pardoned thousands of gay and bisexual men who were convicted under historic anti-gay laws earlier this year, but Mr montague argued they should receive a full apology as a pardon “accepts that you were guilty”.
Thousands signed Mr Montague’s petition asking for “an apology before I die”, which he delivered to Downing Street with his husband, Somchai Pukklai.
Grinning from ear to ear, he told BBC Radio 4’s World at One: “It really made my day, I was over the moon.
“The wording is so wonderful and so explicit. An ‘abject apology’ from the government!”
The letter, sent to him by the Home Office, reads: “Understand that we offer this full apology.
“Their treatment was entirely unfair. What happened to these men is a matter of the greatest regret and it should be so to all of us.”
The apology comes 50 years after the Sexual Offences Act decriminalised private homosexual acts between men aged over 21 in England and Wales, in 1967.
Taking to his Facebook page, he wrote: “Thank you so much for all those thousands who kindly signed my petition.
“It’s all been as successful as possible with the result a full Apology from the Government in and from the Parliament.”
An interview on BBC Newsnight explaining why he wanted an apology, not a pardon, has now been viewed a million times.
Writing in his memoirs, The Oldest Gay in the Village, he said: “In 1974, I was a senior commissioner in the Boy Scout Association running camps for severely physically disabled boys from six southern counties in the UK.
“I was forced to resign. Under Gross Indecency law, we were arrested and charged enthusiastically by homophobic police, assisted by provocateurs and informers.
“Born only able to be ‘in love’ with another man, you were guilty. I and 49,000 others still have criminal convictions. I am partitioning for an APOLOGY from this government on behalf of their predecessors.”
In 1997 Mr Montague met his partner, Somchai, in London.
They entered into a civil partnership in 2006 and married in 2015 at brighton Town Hall.
Discussing his joy at the nuptials, the Brighton and Hove Pride Ambassador said: “I tell everybody I’m the luckiest, happiest old gay man alive.”
Mr Montague realised he was gay in his twenties – long before the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
Like many of his friends at the time Mr Montague married his wife, Vera, at the age of 37, and the couple had three children.
They were together for more than 20 years.
“I was always convinced my wife knew I was gay when she married me but it wasn’t discussed”, he said.
“She could have divorced me, she could have taken me to the cleaners but she didn’t.”
Former Prime Minister David Cameron also praised the campaigner for his LGBT advocacy in a letter.
David Cameron wrote: “I understand that you have been involved in Gay Pride events for some years, and were at Pride in London this year, as well as being elected an Ambassador for Brighton Pride 2013.
“Let me congratulate you for this, and your involvement in charity fundraising. Your commitment to the community is very impressive.”