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Andy Burnham: Historic gay sex offenders should be pardoned

2015-07-18
Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham said there should be an automatic pardon for all gay men convicted of sex offences under laws that no longer exist, the Guardian reported. Burnham pledged to pressure David Cameron to make a change to the existing law, which requires descendants to apply for a pardon before it can be issued. Burnham The call to clear the names of 49,000 men who were prosecuted for historic indecency laws has been growing louder following Alan Turing’s posthumous royal pardon in 2013. The mathematician and WWII codebreaker was convicted in the 1950s of gross indecency with a 19-year-old man, was chemically castrated and committed suicide two years later via cyanide poisoning. “Alan Turing made a remarkable contribution to our country, but it is not only national heroes that deserve to have their suffering atoned for,” Burnham said ahead of a hustings in Brighton. “Tens of thousands of men were treated appallingly and every one of these convictions is equally shameful.” Homosexual acts were decriminalised in the UK – to a certain extent – in 1967, although the offence of “gross indecency”, for which Turing was convicted, was not removed from the statute book until 2003. In 2000, the European Court of Human Rights overturned previous restrictions that criminalised sex between more than two men. Two in three British people believe the convicted men should be pardoned, according to a YouGov poll conducted in February 2015. Earlier this year, Attitude editor Matthew Todd accompanied Turing’s family to 10 Downing Street to deliver a petition for an automatic pardon for the 49,000 convicted men. That petition is still ongoing and has garnered 628,799 supporters on Change.org at the time of this writing.