On Friday 21 October, the House of Commons will debate what is being labelled the Turing Bill, which could lead to the UK Government issuing a general pardon to all gay and bi men who were prosecuted during the 20th Century by unjust and discriminatory sexual offences laws, just as Alan Turing received an individual pardon in 2013.
Alan Turing was an extraordinary man, whose life was cruelly cut short by the way he was treated for being gay. But his story is just one of more than 50,000 men who were similarly persecuted for their sexual orientation, including some right up to 2003 when these laws were repealed. Each one of them deserves the same pardon that Alan Turing so rightly received in 2013 and a clear acknowledgement from the Government that their prosecution was unjust.That’s why Stonewall is calling on MPs to support its passage in Parliament.
You can help by asking your MP to take part in the debate on Friday and support the Bill.
The Private Members Bill is sponsored by John Nicolson MP (SNP) and has cross-party support, but it will only be able to get to the next stage of becoming law if enough MPs take part in the debate and vote to support it on Friday.
We hope the Government will support the Bill, because if it became law, it would enable the Government to fulfil its election manifesto pledge to issue a pardon to everyone convicted under old offences like gross indecency, often used to target gay and bi men.
The Turing Bill also closes a loophole in a previous law, the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, which allows many gay and bi men unjustly prosecuted under one of these laws to apply to have their criminal records deleted.
The loophole is that one important law is excluded, Section 32 (Soliciting by Men) of the Sexual Offences Act 1956. This law was often used in a discriminatory way right through to the 1980s and 1990s, allowing the police to arrest men often for simply chatting up other men. The new Bill will allow men arrested under this law to have their conviction physically removed from their record.
This Bill is the right thing to do.
It’s important that it is passed and doesn’t face the fate of many Private Members Bills in Parliament of running out of time. We are urging MPs to support the Bill and urge you to contact your MP to ask them to take part in the debate on Friday and help ensure the Bill gets to the next stage on its journey into law.
It will help to finally draw a line under the terrible persecution many gay and bi men faced in the UK in last century.
Were you one of the thousands of men unjustly prosecuted?
If so, Stonewall would like to hear from you - find out how we can help you tell your story