The United Kingdom has just expanded Turing’s Law, a measure that seeks to pardon LGBTQ people who were convicted of archaic crimes, largely aimed at gay men who were convicted under sodomy laws.
According to NBC News, gay sex was legalized in the UK in 1967, but the age of consent was kept higher (at 21 years of age) for gay men than for heterosexuals (which was 16 years of age) all the way until 2001. This means that someone who was 25 or 26 could have been convicted of pedophilia for having sex with someone who was 20 years old. NBC also stated that, as of 2016, it was believed that about 65,000 men had been punished under the archaic sodomy and age of consent laws and that an estimated 15,000 of those men are still alive.
Other types of LGBTQ crimes being forgiven include “buggery” a term which the UK used to convict sodomy (which at the time, the nation clumped together with bestiality) as well as “gross indecency”, a verdict that was used to convict gay men of sexual acts that didn’t count as sodomy.
According to The Guardian, the news was delivered by the UK’s Home Secretary, Priti Patel. According to the publication, Patel stated, “It is only right that where offences have been abolished, convictions for consensual activity between same-sex partners should be disregarded too. I hope that expanding the pardons and disregards scheme will go some way to righting the wrongs of the past and to reassuring members of the LGBT community that Britain is one of the safest places in the world to call home.”
The UK government will also be offering posthumous pardons for anyone who was convicted under the archaic laws but is no longer alive today.
In order to receive the pardon, victims must apply to make the process begin, a move which some activist groups, like the LGBT Foundation, says shouldn’t be necessary. The nonprofit says that the convictions should be removed automatically by the government in order for victims not to have to re-live past trauma. The group concluded their statement by saying, “The Government must recognise the pain, trauma and lifelong guilt and stigma these convictions gave many LGBTQ+ people, who were simply trying to live their lives and be their true selves.”