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Theresa May urged: compensate convicted gay men

Delegation with Lord Cashman & Rachel Barnes, great niece of Alan Turing

Compensation letter handed to 10 Downing Street today

 

London, UK – 26 June 2018

 

The UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, was today urged to “compensate living men who were convicted under discriminatory, anti-gay laws – both before and after 1967 – in instances where their behaviour is now no longer a crime.”

Rachel Barnes, the great niece of Alan Turing, was joined by Lord Michael Cashman, Peter Tatchell and Stephen Close, who suffered for three decades after being convicted of a consenting gay offence in 1983.

They delivered the compensation request letter to the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street this afternoon. Copy below.

Of the men who were convicted prior to, and following, the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967, an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 are still alive.

Rachel Barnes, Alan Turing’s great niece, noted:

“I am sure my great uncle would want gay men who suffered like he did to receive compensation. They deserve recompense for unjust imprisonment and fines, physical hardship, mental trauma and often impoverishment. No money can ever reverse lost and damaged lives but as a symbolic gesture compensation is important and the right thing to do.”

Stephen Close was in the Royal Fusiliers. He was convicted, aged 20, of consenting sex with another soldier in 1983. said:

“I was sentenced to six months in a military prison. I lost my job, home, income and pension. My homosexual conviction and ‘discharge with disgrace’ made it very difficult to get another job. I was near unemployable and was forced to do mediocre, low-paid jobs for three decades years. It caused me severe depression and ruined my life.”

Lord Michael Cashman added:

“The government must now consider compensating those whose lives and careers were blighted and, in some cases, they still are.”

Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, explained:

“These men deserve an apology and compensation for the terrible persecution they suffered. Many were jailed and nearly all endured devastating knock-on consequences. They often lost their jobs and became near unemployable and semi-destitute because of the stigma associated with having a conviction for a homosexual offence. Some experienced the break-up of their marriages and lost custody and access to their children. Families and friends disowned them and they were abused and sometimes assaulted in the street. Many descended into a downward spiral of depression, alcoholism, mental illness and suicide or attempted suicide. The psychological and emotional scars are devastating and long lasting. That’s why they need and deserve state compensation.”

Read Peter Tatchell’s comprehensive, detailed exposure of the intensified police and judicial persecution of gay and bisexual men after 1967: https://bit.ly/2yxlyyn

 

Copy of Peter Tatchell’s letter delivered to the Prime Minister, Theresa May, today:

26 June 2018

Dear Theresa May,

Compensation for men convicted under unjust anti-gay laws

I am asking the UK government to agree to compensate living men who were convicted under discriminatory, anti-gay laws – both before and after 1967 – in instances where their behaviour is now no longer a crime.

Around 100,000 men were convicted of consenting adult same-sex behaviour following the outlawing in 1885 of all homosexual acts; with at least 15,000 of these men being convicted after the Sexual Offences Act was legislated in 1967. The latter law was only a partial decriminalisation.

Some forms of sex between men continued to be a crime in parts of the UK until 2013.

Of the men who were convicted prior to, and following, the 1967 legislation, an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 are still alive.

These men deserve compensation for their painful, heart-breaking persecution. Many were jailed and nearly all endured devastating knock-on consequences as a result of their conviction.

They often lost their jobs and became near unemployable and semi-destitute because of the stigma associated with having a conviction for a homosexual offence. Some experienced the break-up of their marriages and lost custody of, and access to, their children. Families and friends disowned them and they were abused and sometimes assaulted in the street.

Many descended into a downward spiral of depression, alcoholism, mental illness and suicide or attempted suicide. The psychological and emotional scars were devastating and long-lasting.

That’s why they need and deserve state compensation.

The ‘gross indecency’ law of 1885 had been used to convict the computer genius Alan Turing in 1952 and, before him, to jail the playwright Oscar Wilde in 1895.

Together with the criminalisation of anal sex, the gross indecency legislation was finally repealed in England and Wales by the Sexual Offences Act 2003. As a result, for the first time in 470 years, these two nations had a criminal code that did not penalise gay sexuality.

In Northern Ireland, the ban on anal sex was finally repealed in 2008. Scotland’s anti-gay sexual offences laws were abolished in 2009 but, in the case of sodomy, did not take effect until 2013.

Gay sex ceased to be a crime across the whole of the UK only five years ago – 46 years after 1967.

I urge you to commit the government to compensate the survivors of this era of homophobic persecution, as a gesture of atonement, healing and reconciliation.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Tatchell,
Director Peter Tatchell Foundation