Manchester MP’s battle to pardon Alan Turing could clear names of 75,000 men convicted for ‘gross indeceny’

By Sophia Rahman

A Manchester MP is pushing forward with the campaign to quash war hero Alan Turing’s conviction for being gay.

Turing’s tragic case was just one of thousands of men who were convicted for ‘gross indecency’ for consensual homosexual acts and either imprisoned or chemically castrated. There are 16,000 men alive in Britain that still carry the conviction.

The Early Day Motion (EDM) to have WWII code-breaker Turing posthumously pardoned was rejected by the upper house earlier this month. Lib Dem MP John Leech told Mancunian Matters that he sees this is as ‘the start of the process, not the end’.  

Speaking from Oxford Road today Mr Leech said: “As someone who was a national hero, I feel it is absolutely vital that we get a pardon for Alan Turing.

“But I see that as a way of making sure that all of the 75,000 people, who’ve been convicted of the same offence over the years will then be able to get the equivalent of a pardon.”

Leech’s fellow Lib Dem Lord Sharkey is now involved in the campaign to clear the men’s names and has drawn up an amendment that will be added to the Bill next week.

“What we want to do now is to get down an amendment that will actually include people who are dead, so the family members can also apply for the conviction to be quashed.”

In 2009, after a petition was set up asking the state to atone for its persecution of Turing, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologised for Turing’s mistreatment on behalf of the government, calling it ‘utterly unfair.’

In response, Turing’s niece Inagh Payne said she had been unaware of his prosecution as her family ‘kept mum about that sort of thing.’ Ms Payne also said: ‘We realise now that he was gay and think he was treated abominably.’

 Families continue to be affected by the law to this day.

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