Benedict Cumberbatch played the part of Alan Turing in the film The Imitation Game recently. Turing cracked the German “Enigma” code and is considered a hero of World War II.
According to The Independent, last February, the real-life family of Alan Turing visited Downing Street to demand that the British government pardon 49,000 men who – like Turing – were prosecuted for being homosexual.
In England, homosexuality was illegal until it was decriminalized in 1967, states the BBC.
The Independent states that Turing’s great-nephew, Nevil Hunt, great-niece, Rachel Barnes, and her son, Thomas, handed over the petition – which had almost half-a-million signatures – and demanded a new law on the matter be approved.
Ms. Barnes, 52, from Taunton, said: “I consider it to be fair and just that everybody who was convicted under the Gross Indecency Law is given a pardon. It is illogical that my great uncle has been the only one to be pardoned when so many were convicted of the same crime.”
Turing, the cryptanalyst and mathematician, was convicted in 1952 for “gross indecency” with a 19-year-old man.
As part of his sentence, he was chemically castrated and he died in 1954 after apparently committing suicide.
He was exonerated in 2013, but his family and petitioners want the government to pardon all the men convicted under the outdated law.
“Generations of gay and bisexual men were forced to live their lives in a state of terror,” said the editor of Attitude Magizine, Matthew Todd.
How does the British government feel about it?
A law on the topic has not yet been enacted, but that would probably change after the British Parliamentary Elections coming up on May 7th.
In March, the Leader of the Labor Party, Ed Miliband, said that a future Labour government would pave the way for posthumous pardons for gay men convicted under historical ‘gross indecency’ laws, according to the BBC. It would allow the families of those men convicted to apply to have their records expunged.
Legislation would be known as “Turing’s Law” in memory of Alan Turing, said Miliband.
Miliband’s decision may have also had an effect on The Conservative (Tory) Party. Recently, during April, The Conservatives pledged to introduce a new law helping to “lift the blight of outdated convictions” from other people found guilty of similar offenses, states The Telegraph.
“Thousands of British men still suffer from similar historic charges, even though they would be completely innocent of any crime today,” the Tory manifesto read.
The manifesto reads: “Many others are dead and cannot correct this injustice themselves through the legal process we have introduced while in government. So we will introduce a new law that will pardon those people, and right these wrong.”