The UK Ministry of Justice has announced a new law named for Alan Turing. The law will “pardon” the thousands of men convicted of crimes because they participated in consensual same-sex relationships when homosexuality was illegal in England. Those who have already died will automatically be pardoned. Those who are still living (yes, there are still people living who have suffered under these old laws), were already able to apply via the Home Office to have such “offenses” wiped from their criminal record.
Justice Minister Sam Gyima said in a statement, “It is hugely important that we pardon people convicted of historical sexual offenses who would be innocent of any crime today. Through pardons and the existing disregard process, we will meet our manifesto commitment to put right these wrongs.”
Alan Turing was a codebreaker who helped decrypt Nazi messages during WW II, saving millions of lives. However, he was convicted for having a sexual relationship with a man. He was given the choice of jail time or chemical castration. He chose castration and two years later, he died by suicide.
Of the estimated 15,000 men still living who could receive pardons for their convictions of “gross indecency,” at least a few are unhappy with the law. Many feel that a pardon is tantamount to an insult. George Montague was convicted in 1974, and he told the BBC that what he wants is a an apology.
He said, “I think it was wrong to give Alan Turing - one of the heroes of my life - a pardon. What was he guilty of? He was guilty of the same as what they called me guilty of - being born only able to fall in love with another man."
Mashable reports that Paul Twocock, the director of campaigns, policy and research at LGBTQ organization Stonewall said, “We welcome the government announcement to issue a posthumous pardon to all gay and bi men unjustly prosecuted for being who they are, but we don't think it goes far enough.”