Tag Archive | England & Wales

“Turing’s Law” Passed in England and Wales

_0000TuringGood – but not good enough.

Thousands of deceased gay and bisexual men in England and Wales convicted of sexual offences for partaking in gay sex when it was still illegal were pardoned posthumously when the Policing and Crime Bill received Royal Assent on 31 January 2017.

The Act is known as Turing’s Law, recognising the ill-treatment of the gay computer scientist Alan Turing, who committed suicide in 1954 after his conviction for Gross Indecency. Turing was given a posthumous Royal Pardon in 2013, but the new Act pardons 50,000 to 100,000 men convicted of Gross Indecency with Another Man or Buggery before 1967.

Justice minister Sam Gyimah said it was a “truly momentous day… …We can never undo the hurt caused, but we have apologised and taken action to right these wrongs.” This is the same Sam Gyimah who last year infamously ‘filibustered’ a Bill in the Westminster Parliament; speaking out its alloted time and thereby preventing a vote being taken upon it.

There are some however who do not think the Act goes far enough Scottish National Party (SNP) MP John Nicholson, who tabled the Bill filibustered by Sam Gyimah, asked what provision there will be for those men still living. The Prime Minister, Theresa May, replied that men still living could make applications for pardons. In 2016 Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that the SNP administration in the devolved Scottish Government is about to introduce their own legislation, under which men still living will be automatically pardoned, along with those deceased, which Mr Nicholson was very quick to point out.

There are very good reasons for doing this. Many of the men convicted are now very elderly and simply physically unable to go and get the forms and fill them out, or indeed fill them out online. A caller to LBC Radio on 1 February 2017 also highlighted another potential problem. He stated he was a gay man who had been convicted, served time in prison, and had subsequently changed his identity. Should he have to apply for a pardon, that would mean having to use his original identity. If the pardon was automatic for living persons, there would be no need for him to run this risk of being exposed.

The Act must be welcomed, as must the upcoming legislation in Scotland, but there is still fault on both sides of the border. Many, myself included, feel that a ‘pardon’ is insufficient, as it still assumes guilt. What is needed is for all convictions completely quashed and a clear apology given, to both the deceased and the living.

There may even be an argument for monetary compensation for those living. After all, many of them faced imprisonment, violence from police officers/prison officers/fellow inmates (including rape in many cases), some fines, most lost their jobs, and were ostracised by family, friends, and society in general.

Those are lost lives, stolen by the state, and those men affected and still alive deserve a HUGE sorry – preferably along with a big, fat cheque.

And while LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell maintains that the Act will pardon men convicted of sexual offences “under discriminatory anti-gay laws between 1885 and 2003”, I question if that is actually the case. I cannot find anything in the Act which mentions men convicted of “underage” gay sex between 1967 and 2001. To explain, the gay age of consent was set at 21 in 1967. It was not until 1994 that it was lowered to 18, and in 2001 it was lowered again to 16, to bring it into line with the age of consent for heterosexuals. This means that there are a great many men still alive today who were convicted of having sex with a “minor”, with all of the attendant stigma that carries. Are they to be pardoned? And if not, why not?

We should never forget the words of Tom Robinson:

Have you heard the story about Peter Wells,
who one day was arrested and dragged to the cells?
For being in love with a man of eighteen;
the vicar found out they’d been having a scene.
The magistrates sent him for trial by the Crown;
he even appealed but they still sent him down.
He was only mistreated a couple of years ~
cos even in prison they “look after” the queers.
(Tom Robinson, “Glad to be Gay”, original version)

All in all, the Act is a step in the right direction, but with all the deaths, the heartache, the loss of liberty, loss of family and friends, ostracisation, violence from the authorities, prison inmates and members of the public alike, loss of livelihoods and much, much more which anti-gay UK laws produced, neither the new Act nor the upcoming legislation in the devolved Scottish Government go nearly far enough to addressing past wrongs.

Get the cheque books out, Theresa and Nicola.

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Congratulations to SSM couples in England & Wales

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Hello Dears, a little late, but I must offer my heartiest congratulations of the first same-sex couples to marry in England & Wales, when the Same Sex Marriage Act passed into law at the stroke of midnight on 29 March 2014.

Among the first to marry were Peter McGraith and David Cabreza, who after living together for 17 years were wed at Islington Town Hall just after midnight, with LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell as chief witness.  Teresa Millward and Helen Brearley wed in Halifax, Sean Adl-Tabatabai and Sinclair Treadway tied the knot at Camden Town Hall, Neil Allard and Andrew Wale were wed in Brighton, and Aarron Adem Erbas married Louis Monaco, also at Islington Town Hall.  Comedienne Sandi Toskvig meanwhile renewed her vows with her partner Debbie. I am sure all my followers join me in wishing them all the heartiest congragulations.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, meanwhile has said that the Church of England would drop it’s opposition to same-sex marriage, as parliament had spoken.

Not so happy was Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern, who in an odious interview with the BBC spoke of “choosing lifestyles” then stated “We can’t just redefine an institution – redefine something that always has been – because we say it’s something that we want.  This is actually very self-centred. This is not about rights, it’s about seeking cultural dominance and seeking to redefine marriage for all of us.”

Yes Andrea, self-centred and seeking cultural dominance in seeking to redefine marriage for all.

Do tell me Andrea dear, do you imagine that marriage is a wholly Christian institution?  If so, do you then consider marriages between any couple who are not Christian, be they of other faiths or none, to be null and void?  Can you show me just exactly where in the Bible there is a clear definition of marriage dear?  And given that the vast majority of the population of England & Wales (and the world in fact) is cisgender/heterosexual, just what was that about cultural dominance dear?

Same Sex Marriage becomes Law in England and Wales

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Okay Lovelies, I know I’m a little late with this but I am more than pleased to report that the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 has received Royal Assent and is now Law in England and Wales.

http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2013-14/marriagesamesexcouplesbill.html

The Bill passed through the Westminster Parliament with alarming speed.  It was originally thought it may not become law until the new year.  Needless to say there are those opposed to it who are voicing their concern with just how quickly it has proceeded through parliament.  For my own part I am not a fan of knee-jerk legislation and I worry that they may have not got everything right.

However, only time will tell and a big hug and heartiest congratulations to England and Wales in taking this momentous step forward.

It had been hoped that the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill currently progressing through the devolved Scottish Parliament would be in place before the Westminster Bill. Sadly that was not to be.  It is worth pointing out however that the Scottish Bill covers all marriage; heterosexual and same sex, and that the parliament took their time over it to make sure everyone is covered, including trans people, and that it is absolutely watertight against opposition.

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/64983.aspx

This therefore is not a time for sour grapes or bearing grudges dears.  I am not nor have I ever been anti-English and I send all same sex couples in England and Wales wishing to marry my heartiest congratulations upon this wonderful news.

Loves

Xandra xxxx