The leader of Gloucestershire’s LGBT students says that a pardon for gay men convicted of now-abolished sexual offences is ‘too little, too late’.
The comments come after the government announced that it will pardon thousands of gay and bisexual men who were convicted of now-abolished sex offences.
Formal pardons will be issued to people convicted of consensual same-sex relationships before homosexuality was legal.
Matt Wester, President of the University of Gloucestershire’s LGBT+ society said: “In a way it’s good what has happened, but it feels too little, too late, and it’s just a real shame that it has taken so long.”
The action has been taken to honour a government commitment that was made when Alan Turing, the famous World War Two code-breaker, was given a posthumous royal pardon in 2013 after being convicted in 1952 of gross indecency with with a man. The act is now being dubbed “Turing Law’.
However, not all gay and bisexual men are viewing this as a victory for the community. George Montague, who was convicted in 1974 for the same reason as Mr Turing, said that he will not accept a pardon and wants an apology instead.
He told the BBC: “To accept a pardon means you accept that you were guilty. I was not guilty of anything.”
He also said that he thought it was wrong to pardon Alan Turing.
“What was he guilty of? He was guilty of the same as what they called me guilty of – being born only able to fall in love with another man.”
Mr Wester said that he completely understands Mr Montague’s comments.
“I agree with what George has said. Handing out pardons gives men within the gay and bisexual community a feeling that what they’ve been doing is wrong. I think the government have the right idea in mind, but they are approaching it in the wrong way.”
'Posthumous pardons from govt. for gay men convicted of abolished sex offences'
But a pardon is an act of clemency. They were not guilty.
— Kate Robbins (@KateRobbins) October 20, 2016
There should be APOLOGIES as well as pardons, for crimes against humanity in criminalising Gay men. https://t.co/qgHkmQOOow
— Fizzy (@fjarmstrong) October 20, 2016
Any living person who was convicted can apply through the Home Office’s ‘disregard process’ to have their name cleared. This will allow them to receive an automatic statutory pardon, and will also remove any mention of an offence from any further criminal record checks.