UK Justice Minister Posthumously Pardoning Over Ten Thousand Gay Men
Some would prefer an apology instead
The United Kingdom is hoping that the introduction of a new law, called the Turing law, which will posthumously pardon tens of thousands of gay men who were convicted of seeking or having sex before 1967, will be a solid step towards justice for the gay men of Britain.
Long overdue, the law is named after famous code breaker Alan Turing.
Celebrated for breaking Germany’s secret codes in World War II, Alan Turing was convicted of homosexual acts in 1952. At the time of his conviction, Mr. touring accepted chemical castration as his punishment in lieu of going to prison and died two years later, in 1954, of an apparent suicide. In 2009 the British government officially apologized, and Queen Elizabeth II went on to pardon him in 2013.
While there are still other parts of the world where homosexuality remains illegal, the Turing law is a much needed reminder that the struggle for gay rights continues in liberal Western societies as well.
Pardoning Implies a Crime was Committed
Even though the British action to clear the records of so many men who have suffered from the historically misguided law is an important step, some gay rights campaigners are objecting to the idea of a posthumous pardon.
There are some critics who feel that this law isn’t fair to the men who were convicted of those laws and are still alive, as most of them would be senior citizens today who will still have to go through the onerous process of applying for a pardon. While there are others who don’t feel that a pardon is appropriate at all in this case.
The 93-year-old author of “The Oldest Gay in the Village,” George Montague, was convicted in 1974 of gross indecency and objects to the idea of a pardon. Mr. Montague believes that a pardon implies that a crime was committed and says that he would prefer an apology.
However, in spite of the people who are critical of the law, there are still a lot of people who are happy that the law is finally in place. One of those people is Alan Turing’s niece, activist Rachel Barnes, who recently gave an interview on ‘All Things Considered,’ a British national public radio show.
Rachel Barnes told the radio shows host Michel Martin that she was, ‘absolutely delighted for all those families who have campaigned for decades to reach this day. It was a momentous day for all our family when we heard that Alan Turing was going to be pardoned back in 2013. One of the best days ever, and we celebrated like mad. But the same pardon is deserved by everybody else.’
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