Good news came out of the United Kingdom this week as Turing’s law received royal assent. It was named after the now famous mathematician Alan Turing, who broke the German Enigma codes in World War II. He sadly committed suicide at the age of 41 after being convicted of gross indecency – the charge under which homosexuals were prosecuted in both the UK and Canada.
Although Turing received a royal pardon in 2013, this bill extends to thousands of men formerly convicted of homosexual offences. They have been posthumously pardoned under a new law. Most of these men are dead now, but the UK gay community is heralding it as a significant victory. It also has been declared an anodyne to family members and descendants of those convicted.
We have a martyr here in Canada: Everett George Klippert, the Calgary Bus Driver who was unjustly jailed for most of the 1960s for being gay. The Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson revived national interest in Klippert in February 2016, eliciting a pledge from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to grant a posthumous pardon. In addition, we have our own thousands who were convicted under Canada’s gross indecency laws.
Edmonton Member of Parliament, Randy Boissonnault, was appointed last fall as special adviser to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 issues, and an apology is part of his mandate. Perhaps they need some inspiration?
In January, Brandon Lewis, UK Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, issued a formal apology on behalf of the government:
I want to take the opportunity to apologise unreservedly, on behalf of the Government, to all those men who will receive a pardon. The legislation under which they were convicted and cautioned was discriminatory and homophobic. I want to make sure that all who were criminalised in this way and had to suffer society’s opprobrium, and the many more who lived in fear of being so criminalised because they were being treated in a very different way from heterosexual couples, actually understand that we offer this full apology. Their treatment was entirely unfair. What happened to these men is a matter of the greatest regret, and it should be so to all of us. I am sure it is to Members across the House. For this, we are today deeply sorry.