Britain just pardoned thousands of men once arrested for being gay

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

The British government just posthumously pardoned thousands of gay and bisexual men who had once been convicted of now-outdated sexual offenses. 

According to the BBC, those still living with such convictions can apply to have them scrubbed from their records. 

The government announced this measure back in October, appealing to a legal precedent called Turing's Law established by the circumstances of Alan Turing, a British wartime codebreaker who committed suicide after being charged with "gross indecency" in 1952. The Queen eventually pardoned Turing in 2013, nearly 60 years after his death.

Alan Turing's notebook on display for auction in Hong Kong
Source: 
Kin Cheung/AP

In an op-ed for the Telegraph, writer Kaite Welsh called on people not to let news of the U.K.'s pardons to distract from what she called "decades of deliberate homophobia."

"We cannot afford to forget the oppression that shaped our culture," Welsh wrote. "Posthumous pardons, however well meant, aren't be a reason to sit down, play nicely and gloss over the past."

In many cases, the homophobic past Welsh speaks of wasn't so long ago — nor is it entirely in the past.

Consensual sex between two men was considered a criminal offense in parts of the U.K. as recently as 1982. What's more, it took until 2001 for the government to equalize the legal ages of consent for same-sex and heterosexual couples — the age for same-sex couples had previously been 21, as opposed to 16 for heterosexual couples.

Meanwhile, the United States still keeps some of its own anti-LGBTQ legislation on the books, with 12 states still observing anti-sodomy laws.

"Human history is ugly — littered with the bodies of the oppressed — and society is doing nowhere near enough to rectify the damage done," Welsh wrote. "LGBT leaders are rightly calling Turing's Law a step forward, but it doesn't let heterosexual oppression off the hook."

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Marie Solis

Marie is a Slay staff writer with focuses in culture and class. Her writing has appeared in Gothamist and the Awl. You can reach her at marie@mic.com.

MORE FROM

'Hot Mic' podcast: Health care vote, Charges in Laquan McDonald shooting, U.S. image

The important stories to get you caught up for Wednesday.

Venezuela's Supreme Court targeted in helicopter attack amid ongoing crisis

The apparent helicopter attack is the latest escalation of an ongoing political crisis.

Iran calls Supreme Court's travel ban decision "racist" and "unfair"

Iranian officials criticized Trump's de-facto Muslim ban this week.

Kshama Sawant on why Seattle needs an independent investigation into the Charleena Lyles shooting

Seattle City Councilperson Kshama Sawant, member of Socialist Alternative party, discusses the Charleena Lyles investigation, tenant voter registration, why Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 and more.

The EPA seeks to undo clean water rule, putting 117 million Americans' water at risk

The new rule could have "long-reaching consequences for everyone living in the United States.”

This small Ohio town might stop treating heroin overdoses to save the city money

"People will die. It's plain and simple."

'Hot Mic' podcast: Health care vote, Charges in Laquan McDonald shooting, U.S. image

The important stories to get you caught up for Wednesday.

Venezuela's Supreme Court targeted in helicopter attack amid ongoing crisis

The apparent helicopter attack is the latest escalation of an ongoing political crisis.

Iran calls Supreme Court's travel ban decision "racist" and "unfair"

Iranian officials criticized Trump's de-facto Muslim ban this week.

Kshama Sawant on why Seattle needs an independent investigation into the Charleena Lyles shooting

Seattle City Councilperson Kshama Sawant, member of Socialist Alternative party, discusses the Charleena Lyles investigation, tenant voter registration, why Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 and more.

The EPA seeks to undo clean water rule, putting 117 million Americans' water at risk

The new rule could have "long-reaching consequences for everyone living in the United States.”

This small Ohio town might stop treating heroin overdoses to save the city money

"People will die. It's plain and simple."