MEN convicted of homosexual offences are being urged to apply for official pardons under the new "Turing Law."
Almost 50,000 gay men - including the playwright Oscar Wilde - were posthumously pardoned at the end of January for crimes which no longer exist. Now Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough MP Stuart Andrew is calling on gay and bisexual men who were convicted of now-abolished sexual offences to come forward so that the injustice can be overturned.
Mr Andrew, who has spoken of his own homosexuality, is welcoming the Prime Minister's call for gay and bisexual men convicted of sexual offences to apply for pardons from the Government.
The MP spoke on the issue at Prime Minister's Questions, stressing: "Today it is inconceivable that somebody would be prosecuted based on who and what they are. Will my Right Hon Friend join me in welcoming the posthumous pardon of some 49,000 men thanks to the Government’s Turing Bill which was enacted yesterday? Will she also encourage those who are still alive to come forward so that their injustices can be overturned?"
Theresa May replied: "I am very happy to join my Hon Friend in welcoming an extremely important change in the law. We committed to it in our manifesto and have now delivered on it. Passing Turing’s law has been a long-standing commitment for the Government. It is momentous and takes action to right the wrongs of the past. Like my Hon Friend, I certainly encourage those still alive to apply to the Home Office to have their offences disregarded."
The Government’s Turing’s Law is named after brilliant mathematician Alan Turing whose success in cracking the German Enigma codes is believed to have saved millions of lives and shortened the Second World War by several years. Turing was said by Winston Churchill to have made the single biggest contribution to Allied victory - but he was a little known figure among the general population until the release of the film The Imitation Game in 2014.
In 1952 Turing was arrested for homosexuality and found guilty of gross indecency. He avoided a prison sentence by undergoing chemical castration. Two years later he was found dead, and an inquest ruled his death was suicide. He was given a posthumous royal pardon in 2013, with this subsequently leading to belated justice for tens of thousands of others under the Turing law amendment.
Mr Andrew said: "I am pleased but unsurprised the Prime Minister has joined me in welcoming the historic passing of this amendment. For years gay and bisexual men across the nation have experienced the humiliation of criminal conviction for being themselves. I am proud to support a Conservative Government which has tried to undo the injustices of the past, and I hope those affected find some comfort in the words of the Prime Minister.
"The Prime Minister and I hope that many of those men affected to come forward as they are now eligible for a pardon."