Emmerdale star calls for British gay men to receive pardons for historical sex convictions

John Bowe, who plays gay businessman Lawrence White in ITV's Emmerdale, has called for men who were convicted of "gross indecency", prior to the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1967 to be pardoned. His comments echo campaigns from a range of LGBT activists including Peter Tatchell, who, along with Stephen Fry, wrote to parliament in 2015 to demand all "gross indecency" convictions be reversed. The actor spoke to The Express at a recent press conference about the devastating consequences of criminalisation and the trauma many gay and bi men suffered as a result. "Some men had electric shock treatment, some men were chemically castrated like Alan Turing, who was pardoned - why can’t everyone else who was imprisoned?" he said. His character's backstory mirrors the stories of countless men who were subjected to abuse due to the homophobic laws, including being imprisoned and subjected to both aversion therapy and electric shock therapy. In the soap, his sexuality was revealed when his affair with builder Ronnie Hale (John McArdle) was exposed to the village, leading to an emotional breakdown. The storyline clearly resonated with a number of men who had lived through homosexuality being criminalised, with Bowe commenting: "I’ve had many men of my age and older coming up to me and shaking my hand and saying, ‘thank you for the part you’re playing’, and there’s something in the eyes and you know that there’s pain in those people and maybe we’re expressing it". Emmerdale continues tonight (July 19) at 7pm on ITV. More stories: Tom Daley reveals how he came out to his mum Straight model who starred in gay porn with twin bother admits it ‘ruined’ their relationship