Thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted of antiquated sex offences in the United Kingdom will be eligible for a pardon under the new ‘Turing Law’.
Deceased men convicted under the now-abolished homosexual offences will automatically receive posthumous pardons.
British Liberal Democratic politician Lord John Sharkey campaigned for four years to change the laws.
“In total there are about 65,000 men convicted under these now-repealed anti-gay laws and 15,000 are still alive, the others are dead.”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 those convicted under the laws suffered in many ways.
“(Their) reputation suffered, their families suffered, they suffered directly in employment terms.
“The laws were very cruel and unjust.”
Alan Turing cracked the Enigma code, thereby saving countless of millions of lives during World War II. However, he received a conviction in 1952 for gross indecency with a 19-year-old man. He died in a probable suicide in 1954 after undergoing chemical castration.
Turing received a posthumous royal pardon in 2013.
His great-niece Rachel Barnes took part in the campaign to see 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.
“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, 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… a pardon.”
“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, “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the best way of acknowledging the real harm done by the unjust and cruel homophobic laws, which thankfully we’ve now repealed.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 remained alive.
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