The Alan Turing Law finally pardons thousands of unfairly convicted gay and bisexual men
‘This is a hugely historic, proud and deeply emotional day, but it is certainly not before time’
More than 75,000 people criminally convicted of homosexuality were pardoned on Monday under the “Sexual Offences (Pardons Etc.) Bill 2016-17”, known informally as the “Alan Turing Law”.
The decision has been warmly welcomed by the architect of Alan Turing’s pardon, former Manchester MP John Leech, who said: “For years I have campaigned and fought for this moment, and this is a hugely historic, proud and deeply emotional day, but it is certainly not before time.”
Mr Leech submitted several motions to parliament and campaigned hard to secure Alan Turing’s historic pardon, stating that it was “utterly disgusting and ultimately just embarrassing” that the conviction was upheld as long as it was.
He added on Monday: “I hope this will provide relief to all those that suffered with this awful and unjust burden for so long. It’s an enormous step forward for LGBTQ+ history.”
Alan Turing was a pioneering English computer scientist and mathematician whose groundbreaking work is thought to have brought WWII to an end four years early.
However, at a trial in 1952, Turing admitted to “acts of gross indecency” before being sentenced to chemical castration. His conviction meant he lost his security clearance and was forced to stop work at Bletchley Park.
Aged just 41, he was found dead from cyanide poisoning in 1954 with a half-eaten apple by his side. An inquiry concluded that it was suicide.
In 2013, Alan Turing was given a posthumous royal pardon and an official apology by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, following the high-profile campaign led by John Leech.
It was in Manchester, in 1952, that Turing was arrested for having sex with another man, whilst much of his ground-breaking scientific work was conducted at the University of Manchester. On Tuesday, mathematics students at the university attend lectures in the building proudly bearing his name.
It is predicted that Turing’s work saved the lives of an estimated 14 to 21 million, and on Monday, it was under Alan Turing’s name and legacy that the injustice of so many others was finally brought to an end.
Mr Leech concluded: “I believe Alan Turing would be truly overwhelmed to see tens of thousands of people rightfully vindicated in honour of his name.”