Saturday, 28 March 2015

Historic Gross Indecency: Pardon Me

This article in Guardian Weekend is pretty powerful and moving stuff; five men tell how their lives were ruined after being arrested over old anti-gay laws against sex such as 'gross indecency'.
Over 600,000 people have now signed an online petition; Pardon all of the estimated 49,000 men who, like Alan Turing, were convicted of consenting same-sex relations under the British "gross indecency" law (only repealed in 2003), and also all the other men convicted under other UK anti-gay laws.
But many people sympathetic to Turing - including Andrew Hodges who wrote the biography on which The Imitation Game was based - had misgivings over the call for his royal pardon.
Further, as the author points out in the introduction; 'In 2012, it became possible for those convicted of homosexual “sex offences” to have their criminal records erased under the Protection Of Freedoms Act – though not those deemed to have been committed in a public place such as toilets, where much of the entrapment went on.'
One of the men interviewed who was discharged from the army has successfully applied to have his criminal record erased and army record cleared.
Two were arrested for cottaging, so at present can not even have their criminal records erased.
One was caught at a cruising ground with a 15 year-old - this is still a crime. Ditto.
Fagburn can understand why anyone, and not just past victims of state homophobia like these six men, are angry about what's happened, and want some kind of apology.
But can anyone explain what this call for an official pardon can achieve?

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