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Government ‘committed’ to pardoning gay men under so-called ‘Alan Turing law’

By Will Stroude

The British government has reiterated its commitment to pardoning men convicted under historic anti-gay laws.

A government spokesperson confirmed to The Independent that proposals for the so-called ‘Alan Turing law’ – so-named after the World War Two code-breaker who took his own life in 1954, less than two years after being convicted of gross indecency and undergoing effective chemical castration – will be brought forward “in due course”.

Turing himself was pardoned in 2013, following a widespread campaign to honour the secret service mathematician, who worked to help break the Nazi’s Enigma code during the Second World War before losing his job following his 1952 conviction and opting to undergo a series of female hormone injections rather than serve jail time.

The new legislation being brought forward by the government will pardon estimated 49,000 other men convicted before the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales in 1967, with the Ministry of Justice announcing they will “now find the right legislative vehicle to push this through”.

“This government is committed to introducing posthumous pardons for people with certain historical sexual offence convictions who would be innocent of any crime now,” a government spokesperson said.

“We will bring forward our proposals in due course”.

The news comes almost two years after Turing’s family, joined by former Attitude editor Matthew Todd, delivered a petition calling to Downing Street calling for posthumous pardons of gay men, signed by more than half a million people.

The campaign was supported by the likes of Stephen Fry and Benedict Cumberbatch, who portrayed Turing in 2014’s Oscar-winning biopic The Imitation Game.

Turing’s great-niece Rachel Barnes told the Independent that while she has “disappointed” it had taken the government so long to take action, she would give her backing “towards any progress” on the issue.

“It’s something the family of Alan Turing have always, always backed and we really do want justice for everybody who was affected by the anti-gay laws,” she said. “I am very pleased to hear the current administration will give it their backing.”

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