More than 75,000 people criminally convicted of homosexuality have today been pardoned 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 Liberal Democrat MP John Leech, who said: “For years I have campaigned and fought for this moment.
“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 today: “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 a high profile campaign led by the former Manchester MP John Leech.
Today, it is under Alan Turing’s name and legacy that the injustice of so many is finally brought to an end.
Following the success of his campaign, Mr Leech turned to securing the pardon for the 75,895 other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who were unfairly convicted for similar offences.
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. Today, mathematics students at the university attend lectures in the building proudly bearing his name.
Mr Leech added: “I believe Alan Turing would be truly overwhelmed to see tens of thousands of people rightfully vindicated in honour of his name.”
It is predicted that Turing’s work saved the lives of an estimated 14 to 21 million.
Mr Leech said Turing’s persecution “by the state for being gay was a scandal that shouldn’t have ever been allowed to stand”.
The first motion Mr Leech submitted called for a recognition of the “vital contribution made by Alan Turing to Britain’s war effort” and “regrets that following his years of national service he received a criminal conviction for having a sexual relationship with another man”.
It added that there were 75,895 other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who were unfairly convicted for similar offences and called on the Government to ensure that they too received pardons.
The former Liberal Democrat MP of ten years, John Leech, wrote to the SNP MP John Nicolson, who sponsored the Sexual Offences bill, to thank him for “seeing the campaign through to its very end”, adding that it was a “deeply emotional day for him and his team” who have fought for this moment for years.