Thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted of antiquated sex offences in the United Kingdom will be eligible to be pardoned under amended legislation dubbed “Turing Law”.
And those who were convicted of the now-abolished homosexual offences and are no longer alive will automatically receive posthumous pardons.
British Liberal Democratic politician Lord John Sharkey has been campaigning to change the laws for four years.
“In total there are about 65,000 men convicted under these now repealed anti-gay laws and 15,000 are still alive, the others are dead,” he said.
He said those who were convicted under the laws have suffered in many ways.
“(Their) reputation suffered, their families suffered, they suffered directly in employment terms,” Lord Sharkey said.
“The laws were very cruel and unjust.”
Turing Law will be enacted through an amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill.
Alan Turing (pictured), who cracked the Enigma code and saved countless of millions of lives during World War II, was convicted in 1952 of gross indecency with a 19-year-old man. He was later chemically castrated and died in 1954 after poisoning himself with cyanide.
Turing was granted a posthumous royal pardon in 2013.
His great-niece Rachel Barnes was also involved in the campaign to have other British men pardoned.
“We helped launch the petition two years ago in January 2015 and within two weeks we had over 500,000 signatures,” she said.
“So this was the start of a campaign to ask the government to pardon everybody else who has been convicted under the same laws.”
But George Montague, who was convicted of gross decency with a man in 1974, said he and others deserved an apology, not a pardon.
“I think it was wrong to give Alan Turing, one of my heroes of my life, wrong to give him a pardon,” he said.
“What was he guilty of? He was guilty of the same of what they call me guilty of, being born only able to fall in love with another man.”
Lord Sharkey said he understood why some people may not want a pardon, or may “feel that it’s wrong”.
But, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program, “a pardon is probably the best way of acknowledging the real harm done by the unjust and cruel homophobic laws, which thankfully we’ve now repealed.
“And I do hope that a lot of people will feel exactly the same way.”
He said of the 65,000 men convicted under the laws, 15,000 are still alive.