UK ‘Alan Turing Law’ Will Posthumously Pardon Thousands of Gay Men Convicted of Historic Offences
Gay and bisexual men convicted of outdated sexual offences in England and Wales are to receive posthumous pardons, the government has announced.
Thousands of living men convicted over consensual same-sex relationships will also be eligible for the pardon.
Lib Dem peer Lord Sharkey, who authored the law to the Policing and Crimes Bill, declared it was “momentous”.
It follows the pardoning of World War Two code-breaker Alan Turing for gross indecency in 2013.
Under the amendment – dubbed “Turing law” – deceased people who were convicted of sexual acts that are no longer deemed criminal will receive an automatic pardon.
Anyone living who has been convicted of such offences could already apply through the Home Office to have the offence wiped from their criminal records.
But now, if the Home Office agrees that the offence is no longer an offence under current law, they will automatically be pardoned.
Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said it was “hugely important that we pardon people convicted of historical sexual offences who would be innocent of any crime today”.
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 programme, “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the best way of acknowledging the real harm done by the unjust and cruel homophobic laws, which thankfully we’ve now repealed.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.
Mr Turing, the Enigma code breaker responsible for decrypting Nazi messages, was granted a posthumous royal pardon in 2013 – 61 years after he was charged at Manchester police station over homosexual activity.
The pioneering mathematician, whose code-breaking skills are said to have shortened World War Two by two to four years, lost his job with the secret service following a conviction for gross indecency and was forced to undergo chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones. Two years later Mr Turing took his own life – and it is estimated that around 49,000 were convicted under similar outdated laws until homosexuality was decriminalised.