UK pardons thousands of convicted gays

(iStock)
(iStock)

London - Thousands of men convicted under now-abolished anti-homosexuality laws in Britain have been pardoned posthumously under a law passed on Tuesday, and many more still alive can now apply to have their criminal convictions wiped out.

Announcing the new law, the Ministry of Justice said the pardons apply automatically to deceased men who were convicted for consensual same-sex relations before homosexuality was decriminalised several decades ago. Men living with convictions can apply to the government to have their names cleared.

"This is a truly momentous day. We can never undo the hurt caused, but we have apologised and taken action to right these wrongs," Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said.

Calls for a general pardon have noted the 1954 suicide of World War II codebreaking hero Alan Turing after his conviction for "gross indecency." After he received a posthumous royal pardon in 2013, pressure for pardons intensified.

Turing, a computer science pioneer, helped crack Nazi Germany's secret codes by creating the "Turing bombe," a forerunner of modern computers. His work helped shorten World War II, and he was an innovator of artificial intelligence.

After the war, Turing was prosecuted for having sex with a man, stripped of his security clearance and forcibly treated with female hormones. He died at age 41 after eating an apple laced with cyanide.

What is now known as "Turing's law" had been a longstanding government commitment, Gyimah said. It is part of the Policing and Crime Bill which received royal approval on Tuesday.

In its announcement, the ministry said that as well as posthumously pardoning gay and bisexual men, the law allows those still living, and who were convicted in cases of consensual sex with other men of legal age, to apply for pardons.

"This will ensure that due diligence is carried out and prevent people from claiming to be cleared of offences that are still crimes, including sex with a minor and non-consensual sexual activity," it said.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When planning for the Black Friday sales do you:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Save, research and plan ahead, preparing to make the most of it?
8% - 900 votes
Wait and see what looks like a good deal on the day?
14% - 1696 votes
Have no interest in spending more money this year?
78% - 9314 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.34
(+0.06)
ZAR/GBP
20.45
(+0.23)
ZAR/EUR
18.21
(+0.01)
ZAR/AUD
11.25
(-0.33)
ZAR/JPY
0.15
(+0.34)
Gold
1805.11
(-1.68)
Silver
23.22
(-1.20)
Platinum
945.00
(+2.05)
Brent Crude
45.51
(+2.15)
Palladium
2325.84
(-0.14)
All Share
57768.55
(+1.09)
Top 40
53067.22
(+1.12)
Financial 15
11711.44
(+3.29)
Industrial 25
80325.98
(+0.51)
Resource 10
52336.45
(+1.09)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo