Tories filibuster ‘Turing Bill’ – denying pardons to 50,000 living gay men

MPs and LGBT campaigners have slammed the decision to block a vote


A private members bill aiming to erase the criminal records of gay men convicted of now-defunct sexual offences was talked out by Tories in the House of Commons this afternoon.

MPs shouted at Conservative minister Sam Gyimah to sit down as the cut-off time for SNP MP David Nicolson’s bill approached. However, the justice minister continued to speak, a vote was not called and the bill fell. If passed, it would have cleared the way for a pardon of nearly 50,000 men living with convictions for consensual homosexual activity.

Gyimah claimed that the government had already fulfilled its manifesto commitment to formally pardon those convicted under now-abolished laws, firstly by introducing a posthumous pardoning process, and secondly by allowing gay men to apply to have their convictions disregarded.

The government argues that a blanket pardon could lead to some men being pardoned for actions that are still crimes today, although the bill included a clause excluding those convictions from the pardon.

Campaigners and MPs from across the opposition have slammed the filibuster.

John Leech, a former Lib Dem MP who tabled the motion on Alan Turing’s pardon in 2012, commented:

“For years I have campaigned and fought for this moment and this could have been a hugely historic and proud day. Instead, it is adding further frustration and heartache to those affected and their families, not to mention the sheer embarrassment to this country.

It is 2016 and there are more than 75,000 people still convicted of just loving someone, it simply beggars belief! I am absolutely gutted and devastated at the result today, and completely ashamed of our government.”

Labour’s Wes Streeting, who intervened during Gyimah’s speech to warn him against talking the bill out, described the government’s actions as ‘a disgrace’.

Earlier in the debate, Chris Bryant fought back tears as he argued for the bill, invoking the memory of gay parliamentarians who fought appeasement in the 1930s, but were dismissed by the government as ‘glamour boys’.

Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.

17 Responses to “Tories filibuster ‘Turing Bill’ – denying pardons to 50,000 living gay men”

  1. NHSGP

    1. If they accept the Pardon that means they have admitted guilt.

    2. Peers and MPs. They created the law. They broke the law at the time. My view they should not get any pardon for laws they created and broke.

    3.It shows why the state is crap and dangerous organisation. Quite why the left as so deluded to think the state will save them when the state is for the most part the problem.

    4. For example, the welfare state spent all the wealth leaving a 10,000 bn pound debt.

  2. Mick

    Just a minute, ‘convictions for being gay’ came more through lewd public behaviour, for example.

    Bunk-ups in toilets, or behind bushes, long became the cliche. It still happens today. In 2000, all three main party candidates for London Mayor promised gays they would not be ‘persecuted’ ny police if they were found copulating in public. And when George Michael went to LA and was arrested for jacking off in a lavvy there, gays all around the place acted like he was the victim.

  3. Rob

    @ NHSGP no the banks stole all the money for bailouts,the state is what stops hundreds of thusands of people a year dying of treatable diseases and their children being driven into survival prostitution, the real goal of the libertarian movement of pedophiles and psychopaths, massive numbers of starving, disposable children.

    @Mick ,and if straight people where being prosecuted for doing the same you may have had a point, but exactly 0 straight people where prosecuted under that law, none.

  4. Kath Rogers

    Mick, read the details of the proposed bill. It is primarily concerned with historical convictions for consensual same sex relationships which, as I’m sure you know, are no longer against the law. People convicted of offences that are currently against the law – lewd public behaviour for example – will not be pardoned. So you don’t need to worry! Love and peace.

  5. NemesisMikey

    Accepting a pardon is a recognition that either the law was badly applied or that the law was a bad law. The notion that the unjust outcomes of bad laws should be respected is frankly infantile drivel – I cannot wait for some to pop up defending 19th century laws that forbade women from voting. As for the Welfare State spent £10,000 billion – sorry, which planet are you writing in from?

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