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Turing’s Family Present the Petition to 10 Downing Street.

 

Alan Turing’s great nephew, Neville Hunt, his great-niece Rachel Barnes and her son Thomas are shown presenting the petition to David Cameron at Downing Street on 23rd Feb. Also present was editor of Attitude Magazine Matthew Todd, who commented: “Generations of gay and bisexual men were forced to live their lives in a state of terror”.
Men convicted of gross indecency were often considered to have brought huge shame on themselves and their families with many taking their own lives. It is about time the country addressed this appalling part of our history.

These comments are reflected in those posted on line by those who signed the petition; from over 70 countries around the world. Some were themselves victims. Others were set up in sting operations by the police. Some were from the families of those convicted who had killed themselves because of the perceived shame. The suffering was still with them and still hurting. A pardon would be a small gesture. Some comments were from young LGBT people appalled at the injustice heaped on those who, without their sacrifices would not have the rights they have today. And many were from straight people appalled at this historic injustice—-almost complete incomprehension that gay men should have been criminalised in this way. To them it was simply a gross violation of human rights.

The Petition 

Calls on the government to “Pardon all of the estimated 49000 men who, like Alan Turing, were convicted of consenting same sex relationships under the British gross indecency laws [only repealed in 2013] and also all the other men convicted under other UK anti-gay laws.”

The petition continues on line at change.org.

What Remains To Be Done

The publicity given to the presentation has been disappointing to put it mildly; barely a mention even in the LGBT press, but plenty of speculation on which ‘celebrity’ will be next to ‘come out’ There seems to have been more publicity in the USA; perhaps because of the publicity given to the Turing film The Imitation Game.

What will be needed is a new parliamentary campaign, with all the parties getting involved to get a pardon agreed.
The last attempt to do so does not suggest it will be done without a fight. This came in July 2013 when an amendment was moved by Lib Dem Peer Lord Sharkey; backed by the Labour Front Bench and ‘out’ Tory Lord Black to the Criminal Justice Bill that would have granted a pardon to those whether alive or dead.

This met with the shameful response from justice minister Lord Faulks who declared that he could see “no point in granting posthumous pardons” and that in any case it would be too costly.

We would like to see him justify that to the families of those who killed themselves or indeed explain what an acceptable price for justice is.

Please continue to promote the petition but please also try to get this issue before parliament again.
Justice has been delayed too long. We cannot undo these historical injustices but we can do something to remove the stigma from a criminal record for something that should never have been a crime in the first place.

Ed Miliband commits Labour to a ‘Turing’ Law

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has responded to the petition by promising that a Labour Government would introduce legislation which would allow dead mens families and friends to apply to the Home Office to apply to the Home Office to quash convictions under the gross indecency law for consensual same sex relationships. At present it is only possible for those still alive to do this and they have to make the applications personally.The new law would be named after Alan Turing.

Miliband said “What was right for Alan Turings family should be right for other families as well. The next Labour Government will extend the rights to individuals already have to overturn convictions that society now sees as grossly unfair to the relatives of those who have now passed away.’

These remarks have been replicated by Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg.

One might argue that the pardon should not have to be applied for and should be granted automatically to ALL those convicted of an offence before 2003 that is no longer an offence now. Others may question the bizarreness of granting a pardon to the victims in the first place but it offers a real chance for at least a measure of justice to be—–at long long last—at least a modicum of justice.

Ubfortunately the response from the Government and Conservatives has been distinctly dusty. Whilst admitting that the Freedoms Act of 2012 has not resolved all injustices they have floated the red herring that a blanket pardon could benefit paedophiles . Before 1967 ALL sex between consenting men was illegal regardless of age—so some could have been guilty of sex with minors. However this would be easily overcome by a provision that those allowed absolution would be limited to those who would have acted wholly legally under the law as it stands today. The alternative would be to grant a pardon to NO posthumous men thus leaving the suspicion that they MAy may have been paedophiles.

That is a grossly unfair burden to place on the families of gay men who have died who were completely innocent.
We welcome Ed Miliband committing Labour to this pardon. Calling it Turings Law is an excellent idea. We welcome support from the Liberal Democrats and Greens.

We would even welcome support from the Conservatives. We do have an election coming up after all!

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

Following Mr Milibands initial announcement there has been clarification by the Labour Party.
“This is essentially a disregard —whereby any record of the offence is removed from police records and other official documents .
“We are prepared to consult—in advance to ensure that this is the best route to righting this historical injustice.”
We will be making such a submission. Here are our initial thoughts.We welcome your comments

Pardon, Apology or Exoneration?

The petition launched on Change.Org has been a tremendous success building on the film The Imitation Game and the Royal Pardon granted to Alan Turing. However we do not feel —although we support the campaign—that this is necessarily the best way forward,
1. A ‘pardon’ would mean that the victims would be forgiven for being victims.
2 Neither would a pardon automatically mean that all records would be wiped. A ‘disregard’ would do so and ensure that everyone who committed a ‘crime’ would have ALL their records cleared. Everyone guilty of an offence under the law as it existed before 2003 but who would not have been so under todays law would have their records cleared. However we believe that such a disregard should be automatic on that basis.
3. An apology by itself would have little meaning. The sons are not guilty for the sins of their fathers, Their duty is not to perpetuate injustice

4 We believe a far more appropriate term would be EXONERATE. The OED definition of ‘exoneration’ is ‘to absolve from blame’ Precisely so. These men were correctly found guilty by the laws of the day but we now consider that that law was unjust. Today they would not be held to be guilty of any crime. Therefore their records should be wiped. This would also be an acknowledgement to all victims –alive or dead—-that the law of the day WAS unjust and that they were victims not criminals
This of course should be applied to survivors and dead alike. Shameful comments about corpses not needing justice or of it costing too much should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

We Were All Victims

All gay men who lived in this period lived in fear of exposure even if they did not end up in court. The Gross indecency Laws were accurately described as “A blackmailers Charter . Other gay men were forced into marriage to try to escape wagging tongues and pointing figures . Thus their misery was often extended to uncomprehending wives and children.Exoneration would in some measure apologise to
them. But the worst affected were those convicted in court. They were punished several times over——especially if the case was reported in the local press.
Here is one such case—–not of a famous victim such as Alan Turing but two ordinary men.

October 1949—-Hull Daily Mail—-Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire
In banner headlines ‘An Actor and a Hull Clerk were each fined ¬£25 at Hull Quarter Sessions for gross indecency–The accused Robert Clive Walton [37] of Blaby Leicestershire and John Henry Marsden [43] clerk,of Dales Terrace Beaumont Street ,Hull were————

Now that ¬£25 fine was substantial——equivalent to about three weeks wages in 1949 [even then Hull was not top of the national wages league!] but that was not the worst of it. Marsden ,in particular , would have suffered from his workmates, family and friends -and like Turing might well have lost his job as well. Then as now local papers loved filling space with items such as ‘your neighbour in court’ It was too much for some who committed suicide at the prospect of it. Robert Walton might have been a little luckier as there were not many readers of THE Hull Daily Mail in Blaby.
The headline in Alan Turings local paper was ‘Cambridge Don guilty of Gross Indecency’We all know the tragic results of that

But we think there should be exoneration not only for famous men like like Alan Turing but also for those such as Robert Clive Walton and John Henry Marsden of Hull whose only brush with fame came with perceived shame in the Hull Daily Mail
They and the other 49000 deserve as much justice as we are able to give them. It is not asking much recompense for ruined lives
Colin Livett 13/3/15

Another Decade . Another Victim.

Alan Turing was not the only or the last man to ,in effect, be murdered by the the British state as a result of the gross indecency laws—simply the most famous. The case outlined below is,in some respects, even worse than that of Turing.
This man was Billy Clegg-Hill, who died in 1962 [a decade after Turing],during medically supervised “therapy” for homosexuality——ordered by a British judge, following Clegg-Hills arrest for indecency and as an alternative to prison.As part of his ‘therapy’ [torture] Clegg-Hill was shown naked pictures of men and simultaneously injected with a vomit-inducing drug called apomorphine.”The purpose was to make him associate naked men with being sick. Unfortunately ,the doctors neglected to give him any fluids, and he died of a stroke brought on by dehydration.” his sister later told the BBC.
I don’t suppose anyone is going to make a blockbuster movie about Billy Clegg-Hill but he was a victim as much, if not more than Alan Turing. Even into the 1960s Aversion Therapy was used by the British State against men who were guilty of no crime At the time many even saw it as a ‘soft’ option to locking them up. Many would now see it for what it was —-torture of an innocent British citizen by the British state.
Surely Billy Clegg-Hill—-and many unknown–deserve a pardon-if that is the right word-as much as Alan Turing?.
CL 9/4/15

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Now is the time to pardon the other 49,000. Introduce Turing’s Law!

 

2 thoughts on “Turing Family Present 523,000-signature Petition Asking for a Pardon for all Convicted of Historic ‘Gross Indecency’ Crimes.

  1. Yet to date—according to information in The Observer on 3rd May only 65 pardons have been issued. Turings of course remains the only posthumous one. These pardons-or preferably exonerations -should be AUTOMATIC. Wipe the record of all of those who under todays law would have committed no crime. Be they alive or dead. Is that REALLY so difficult to organise?

    Reply
  2. And today -May 17th-International Day of Action Against Homophobia and Transphobia-GCHQ,from which Turing was banned working because of his conviction, is floodlit with the rainbow flag. What would he have made of that? What ,more importantly ,would he have made of the other 49000 still being denied justice? Time for action indeed!

    Reply

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