50,000 men convicted of Alan Turing’s ‘gross indecency’ offense may apply to be pardoned

LGBTI activists have demanded 50,000 men living with Turing-era 'gross indecency' convictions be pardoned, with one activist requesting an inquest into Turing's cause of death to rule out death by special forces

50,000 men convicted of Alan Turing’s ‘gross indecency’ offense may apply to be pardoned
24 December 2013

After gay math genius and war hero Alan Turing has been posthumously pardoned for then-criminal homosexuality, LGBTI activists are calling for apologies and pardons for the 50,000 men with the same convictions.

London-based activist Peter Tatchell and gay rights organization Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) released statements criticizing the UK government for not apologizing or pardoning the 15,000 men still alive who were convicted under the same ‘gross indecency’ offense as Turing.

Tatchell also wants the government to go a step further than their pardon: He claims the British Secret Service has not been completely ruled out as suspects in Turing’s death, and so wants an inquest into his death.

Turing is credited with helping Allied forces during WWII using his code-breaking skills to infiltrate enemy military intelligence.

He allegedly committed suicide via cyanide poisoning at the age of 41 in 1954, two years after being convicted of ‘gross misconduct’ of same-sex behavior with another man.

At the time, homosexuality was still a crime in Britain. Instead of jail time, Turing opted for female hormone treatment, otherwise known as chemical castration.

Some LGBTI groups today believe the same pardon granted to Turing should be passed down to the remaining men still convicted of a non-violent crime that is no longer illegal.

The UK Home Office told Gay Star News the remaining 50,000 convictions could be reconsidered by submitting a formal application: ‘The government has taken concrete action to allow those affected by this to apply for their convictions to be disregarded and would encourage anyone affected to apply to have these records deleted or disregarded and guarantee that all applications will be considered carefully.’

A UK Home Office representative said Turing was pardoned because an application was submitted on his behalf, and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said considering Turing’s role in ‘helping to end the war and save thousands of lives…A pardon from the Queen is a fitting tribute to an exceptional man.’

PTT secretary George Broadhead said in a press release: ‘As a gay atheist Alan Turing is a Humanist hero and a pardon is long overdue. However, I agree with other LGBT activists that it’s wrong that the many other men convicted of exactly the same offence are not even being given an apology, let alone a pardon’.

While the possibility exists for conviction pardons on decriminalized offenses, The UK Home Office told GSN the government would be responding to Tatchell’s inquest demand in due course, as authorities have not been contacted.

Tatchell calls the original inquest into Turing’s death ‘inadequate’ and ‘perfunctory,’ claiming the apple Turing laced with cyanide that caused Turing’s death was never tested for cyanide.

‘Although there is no evidence that Turing was murdered by state agents, the fact that this possibility has never been investigated is a major failing.

‘Turing was convicted under the same ‘gross indecency’ law that sent Oscar Wilde to prison in 1895,’ Tatchell adds.

‘The security services would have been very fearful that Turing was vulnerable to blackmail and anxious that he might pass information to the Soviets…’

‘In this frenzied homophobic atmosphere, all gay men were regarded as security risks – open to blackmail at a time when homosexuality was illegal and punishable by life imprisonment. Doubts were routinely cast on their loyalty and patriotism. Turing would have fallen under suspicion.’

Applications to have convictions of decriminalized sexual offenses revised can be accessed on the Home Office website.

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