In 1967 the United Kingdom decriminalised ‘homosexual acts’, which means that this year in the 50th anniversary (although this didn’t pass in Scotland until 1980 or Northern Ireland until 1982).
Late last month, the British government posthumously pardoned all men convicted of ‘buggery’ under that ridiculous law.
The pardon is dubbed “Turing’s law” after Alan Turing, the gay man who broke the Enigma code in order to help the Allies win WW2 and was then persecuted by his own country for his sexuality. He committed suicide in 1954 and received a pardon in 2013.
Some of the men affected by this pardon are still alive and can apply to have this offence wiped from their records.
My biggest problem with this law is that it doesn’t go far enough. As my neighbour Michael (and many,, many people on Twitter) have said, a pardon implies that the person did something wrong and is in need of forgiveness.
These men don’t need to be forgiven by the UK Government, the Government should be the ones asking for forgiveness.
Turing’s Law doesn’t go far enough much like the decriminalisation of homosexuality didn’t go far enough but they are baby steps in a long journey.
A journey that included employment protections, civil unions, adoptions and marriage and has so much further to go.
What should be our current priorities for LGBT+ protections?
Jonathan Cooper, QC, Britain’s leading expert on international LGBT human rights law, said: “Apart from civil partnerships and same-sex marriage, all other LGBT equality legislation that Britain enjoys arose from Europe. Decriminalisation, access to the armed forces, the equal age of consent, gross indecency [laws] – all of those changes came about because of decisions of either the Strasbourg or Luxembourg courts.”
Sarah Bourke, a leading employment and LGBT equalities barrister, who lectures in gender equality at the Academy of European Law, said: “If we are no longer in the EU there is nothing to stop protection for LGBT people in employment being taken away. What it boils down to is political will.”
Write to your MP today, to ask them to enshrine LGBT rights from the EU into British law.