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UK to posthumously pardon convicted gay and bisexual men

Reports say more than about 75,000 gay and bisexual men were convicted under the Sexual Offences Act and around 16,000 among them are believed to be alive today

Britain is set to posthumously pardon thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted under outdated sexual offense laws, the government has revealed.

Dubbed as the ‘Alan Turing Law’, the new decision will also pardon thousands of living men in England and Wales convicted over consensual same-sex relationships.

UK justice minister Sam Gyimah was quoted in media reports as saying: “It is hugely important that we pardon people convicted of historical sexual offences 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,” Gyimah added.

Reports say more than about 75,000 gay and bisexual men were convicted under the Sexual Offences Act and around 16,000 among them are believed to be alive today. Britain decriminalised homosexual acts in 1967 and the age of consent for homosexuals was reduced to 16 in 2001.

According to the government, anyone who had been found guilty of same-sex relationships can now apply through the Home Office to have their names cleared through the disregard process. But, if the Home Office agrees that the offence is no longer an offence under current law, living men convicted for the ‘crime’ will automatically be pardoned.

Gyimah said that the Government will try to implement the change through an amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill.

However, George Montague, who was convicted in 1974 of gross indecency with a man, said he won’t accept a pardon, but need an apology, BBC News reported.

Montague was quoted by the broadcaster as saying: “To accept a pardon means you accept that you were guilty. I was not guilty of anything. I was only guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The new decision dubbed as “Turing’s Law” in reference to the wartime mathematician who cracked Nazi Germany’s “unbreakable” Enigma code during World War II.

Turing, who died in 1954, was prosecuted in 1952 for homosexual acts and the British government granted a posthumous pardon in 2013 after officially apologised for his treatment.

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