Following the postumous pardon for computer genius and World War II hero Alan Turing, who was convicted of Gross Indecency, a petition has been gathered, which the family of Alan Turing are backing, to have similiar convictions against 49,000 gay men pardoned. The men in question, like Turing, were convicted for homosexual activities, before it was decriminalised in 1967. Around 15,000 of the men may still be alive.
Now the UK government are dragging their feet over the pardon, attempting to claim without any evidence to back their claims up, that a small number of paedophiles may benefit from the pardon. A source told the Guardian newspaper, “There is huge frustration that the deal breaker now appears to be a fear that a general pardon might see what are being described as some paedophiles pardoned”
The claims come from the laws which followed decriminalisation of male homosexuality, whereby sexual relations between men were only legal for consenting males of 21 years of age or over. Therefore, any man over the age of 21 having sex with a man between 16 to 20 years old was commiting an offence of having sex with a minor. Age of consent in the UK was equalised at 16 years old in 2001.
Campaigners have suggested that objections about benefitting paedophiles could be overcome by introducing amendments may overcome this, by stating that acting under current law, sexual acts involving 16 to 20 year olds would be considered legal between consenting adults, and thereby past convictions of having sex with a minor should be quashed.
Indeed, such amendments would have that effect. What worries me more about this is the wording used. The term “paedophile” is being freely banded about in this issue, when even in law, including the post-1967 law, that simply is not the case. Someone who is sexually attracted to an underage teenager is described as a hebephile. Paedophilia only applies when the child is younger than 13 years old.
And I fully believe that the government, who know the definitions in law (or should do), are fully aware of this, and are purposely attempting to castigate men already unjustly convicted, of now being no better than kiddy fiddlers. And worse still, they are doing that without offering one shred of evidence to that effect.
Well seeing it’s an election year, in which the Tory-dominated government will attempt any desparate populist measures to win votes, no matter who they may hurt in the process.
Simon Hughes of the Liberal-Democrats, meanwhile, is to demand any future coalition agreement includes an automatic pardon for the 49,000 men. Too little, too late, Simon dear. The Lib-Dems already sold out their principles and their soul to get into power, and if you lay down with dogs, do not be surprised when you wake up with fleas.