Alan Turning’s family outside 10 Downing Street (Pic: Change.org / Facebook)
Members of Alan Turing’s family have handed over a petition calling for the pardon of 49,000 men convicted of homosexuality in the UK to the British government.
On Monday, Turing’s great niece Rachel Barnes, great nephew Nevil Hunt and great, great nephew Thomas Barnes delivered the petition – signed by more than 520,000 people – to Prime Minister David Cameron at number 10 Downing Street.
“I consider it to be fair and just that everybody who was convicted under the Gross Indecency Law is given a pardon,” said Barnes, the Western Gazette reported.
“It is illogical that my great uncle has been the only one to be pardoned when so many were convicted of the same crime. I feel sure that Alan Turing would have also wanted justice for everybody.”
The handover of the signatures comes amidst heightened awareness of the legal persecution of gay men in Britain prior to 1967, thanks to the success of the Oscar-winning film about Turing’s life, The Imitation Game.
When he was convicted in 1952 for his homosexuality, the mathematical genius was given the choice of imprisonment or chemical castration. He chose the latter and died two years later, possibly by suicide, at the age of 41.
In 2013, Queen Elizabeth granted Turing a posthumous royal pardon, but the estimated 49,000 others who were also prosecuted for homosexuality retain their criminal records. The petition calls for these men to also be pardoned.
The campaign has been backed by British star Stephen Fry and The Imitation Game actor Benedict Cumberbatch.
Homosexuality was only legalised in Britain in 1967, when the law for “gross indecency” (section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885) was overturned.