I’m proud that Ed Miliband has this week committed the next Labour government to offering posthumous pardons to gay men convicted under historic anti-homosexuality laws.
Anyone who has seen the Oscar-nominated film The Imitation Game will know about the incredible selflessness, dedication and patriotism displayed by the central character Alan Turing, played by Benedict Cumberbatch.
It was thanks to Turing and his work at Bletchley Park that Britain was able to crack the German enigma machine which helped to win the war.
What viewers will also know is that Turing was shamed, prosecuted and horrifically punished for being homosexual. Homosexuality was illegal until it was decriminalised in England in 1967 and Turing was convicted for “gross indecency” in 1952, after which he was chemically castrated. Two years later he committed suicide.
The last Labour government recognised this deep injustice and Gordon Brown apologised to Turing’s family in 2009. Now Ed Miliband has announced that the next Labour government will go further and offer posthumous pardons to other gay men convicted under historic anti-homosexuality laws.
The legislation, known as Turing’s Law, would allow the men’s family and friends to apply to the Home Office to have their convictions for participating in consensual same-sex relationships quashed.
This is an important change for the men’s family and friends as it allows them to pursue the justice that eluded their loved ones when they were alive. And it’s part of our collective effort to come to terms with this aspect of our national history.
But this change isn’t just about the past; it’s also about the future and recognising that the fight for true equality goes on. That’s why we must speak out against homophobic and transphobic bullying. And we must continue to speak out for those across the world without a voice who are facing persecution and prejudice because of their gender or sexuality.
Labour is determined to lead the fight for equality and honouring those who were persecuted for their sexuality is one step on that path.