Former Liberal Democrat MP for Manchester Withington, John Leech, who led the successful campaign to pardon Alan Turing, has today secured an agreement with the Government which will grant a posthumous pardon to tens of thousands of gay and bisexual people convicted under long abolished sexual offence laws.
The decision to accept the amendment has been warmly welcomed by the architect of Alan Turing’s pardon, Cllr. John Leech, who said: “For years I have campaigned and fought for this moment and I’m completely overwhelmed that this is finally coming to a positive end.
“This is a deeply profound and emotional day for my team and I.”
Those similarly convicted but still alive will also receive pardons if they have successfully applied for a disregard, or in future successfully apply for a disregard under the Protection of Freedoms Act.
The Government will add their name to the Liberal Democrat amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill that when passed will finally grant the long awaited pardon to over 75,000 people.
This has been a long fought campaign for John Leech who first raised the issue in the Houses of Parliament and began campaigning in 2011.
Mr Leech submitted several motions to Parliament and campaigned hard to secure the historic pardon, stating that it was “utterly disgusting and ultimately just embarrassing” that the conviction was upheld as long as it was.
In 2013, Alan Turing was given a posthumous royal pardon and an official apology by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, following the high profile campaign led by John Leech.
Following the success of his campaign, Mr Leech turned to securing the pardon for the 75,895 other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who were unfairly convicted for similar offences.
Alan Turing was a pioneering English computer scientist and mathematician whose groundbreaking work is thought to have brought WWII to an end four years early.
However, at a trial in 1952, Turing admitted to “acts of gross indecency” before being sentenced to chemical castration. His conviction meant he lost his security clearance and was forced to stop work at Bletchley Park.
Aged just 41, he was found dead from cyanide poisoning in 1954 with a half-eaten apple by his side. An inquiry concluded that it was suicide.
It is estimated that Turing’s work saved the lives of some 14 to 21 million people.
Mr Leech said Turing’s persecution “by the state for being gay was a scandal that shouldn’t have ever been allowed to stand”.
The first motion Mr Leech submitted called for a recognition of the “vital contribution made by Alan Turing to Britain’s war effort” and “regrets that following his years of national service he received a criminal conviction for having a sexual relationship with another man”.
John Leech concluded: “This is an enormous step forward for LGBTQ+ history and I believe Alan Turing would be truly proud to see tens of thousands of people rightfully vindicated in his name.”
Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron MP, added: “The Liberal Democrats continue to be the strongest voice on equality in and out of Parliament.
“This was a manifesto commitment which even in opposition, thanks to the tireless work of John Leech alongside our MPs and peers, we have been able to deliver on.”