Alan Turing Law Finally Pardons All Gay Men In England And Wales

A statue of Alan Turing in London. Lenscap Photography/Shutterstock

In what many will see as a long overdue move, the British government has passed an amendment pardoning all gay and bisexual men in England and Wales convicted of sexual offenses during the backwards period when homosexuality was illegal in the UK. The amendment has been nicknamed the Turing Law, as it follows the pardoning of legendary World War II Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing in 2013.

Turing, who invented what came to be known as the Turing Machine back in 1936, is considered by many to be the father of modern computing. In 1952 he was convicted of gross indecency with another man, and reportedly committed suicide two years later by poisoning himself with cyanide.

By the time all laws banning homosexuality were finally abolished in the UK in 1982, around 65,000 men had been convicted – of which 15,000 are still alive today.

After Turing was posthumously pardoned, an online petition was set up calling for this same courtesy to be applied universally. Among the more than 600,000 signatories who put their name to this cause were the likes of Stephen Fry and Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Turing in the film The Imitation Game.

With the passing of the new law, all those convicted of acts related to homosexuality will now automatically be pardoned. Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said it was "hugely important that we pardon people convicted of historical sexual offenses who would be innocent of any crime today."

LGBT charities and campaign groups have begun discussions with ministers in Scotland and Northern Ireland for similar procedures to be introduced as soon as possible too.   

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