Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Gay men pardoned

When I was little we enjoyed the game of "fortunately/unfortunately" where you take it in turns to make up snippets of a story where good turns of events alternate with bad ones. This is a bit how I feel today after the Policing & Crime Bill (commonly called the Alan Turing Bill) received royal assent.

I welcome today's news that thousands previously convicted of homosexual acts in Britain before such acts were decriminalised in 1967 have been officially pardoned. Too bad most of them are long since dead and this is of no actual benefit to lives and reputations that were ruined. Still, it's another step in the right direction.

There are still sentences that won't be covered by the new law and I do have fears that recent political developments may halt further progress in this area for a while. Given how people are convinced that being trans is connected with being gay (and it's partly our fault for being so closely connected politically with gay rights movements) it's a worry if things move backwards after this.

Still, let's rejoice that society has been reducing the age-old persecution of gay, lesbian and bi people by steps like today's. Slowly but surely.

ADD: 2 Feb. One surviving victim of the war that was waged on homosexuality does not want to apply for a pardon on the grounds that he did nothing wrong, it was the law that was wrong. The age-old paradox that by accepting a pardon you acknowledge the crime. I feel so sad that so many men suffered - and still suffer - in this Greek tragedy of human instinct versus social norm.

Sue x


  1. It's a step at least and one long overdue.
    Men like Alan Turing, who helped defend the country through their actions and had such an important impact on things we take for granted today, should never have been treated the way they were. Imprisonment, chemical castrating, being driven to suicide; no society should allow its members to be treated like that. If it does then that society has no right to look at other societies and comment on how its citizens are treated.
    I hope that those men that were treated in this way and who are still alive make use of the pardon but I'm not sure how many will. After all that they were put through how many are going to want to relive those experiences.

    1. You put it very well, Jenna. My feelings exactly. Sue x