UK pardons 50,000 convicted gay men, including Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing
31 January, 2017
By Kate Mcann
From: The Telegraph, UK
Oscar Wilde, the playwright and poet, was among more than 50,000 gay men posthumously pardoned on Tuesday under a new “Turing Law” introduced for homosexual crimes that no longer exist.
The law, contained in the Policing and Crime Bill, is named after Alan Turing, the computer pioneer and Bletchley Park codebreaker who was convicted of homosexual acts in 1952. He was pardoned in 2013.
As well as the posthumous pardons, the new law will allow 15,000 living men who were found guilty of sexual acts that are no longer illegal to apply to the Home Office for a pardon.
People who have died will be automatically pardoned, although their families will not be informed by the Government. The law does not apply to non-consensual sexual acts or those involving people under the age of consent.
Sam Gyimah, the justice minister, said: “This is a truly momentous day. We can never undo the hurt caused, but we have apologised and taken action to right these wrongs.”
The new law received widespread support after being suggested by Lord Sharkey, Lord Cashman and Lord Lexden. Lord Sharkey said: “This is a momentous day for thousands of families up and down the UK who have been campaigning on this issue for decades.
“It is a wonderful thing that we have been able to build on the pardon granted to Alan Turing during Coalition and extend it to thousands of men unjustly convicted for sexual offences that would not be crimes today.”
Wilde was convicted of gross indecency and sentenced to two years’ hard labour in 1895. A source at the Ministry of Justice confirmed he was one of the 50,000 men pardoned, although some of his crimes will still stand because they are not included in the new law.
A spokesman for Stonewall, the gay rights charity, called the new law: “Another important milestone of equality.”