John Leech: "Stop playing political games and pass this bill!"

  • 'Alan Turing Law' to pardon 75,000+ people criminally convicted of homosexuality was talked out of Parliament today despite high hopes.
  • Architect of Alan Turing's pardon, John Leech, has slammed the Tories for 'playing political games' with more than 75,000 people.
  • Leech led successful campaign to pardon Turing.

The bill to pardon more than 75,000 people criminally convicted of homosexuality fell flat in Parliament today as it was talked out of the commons.

The "Sexual Offences (Pardons Etc.) Bill 2016-17", known informally as the"Alan Turing Law", should have passed but fell flat as the government wasted time.

The bill which was named after the pioneering English computer scientist and mathematician, would have seen 75,895 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who were unfairly convicted of homosexuality and other similar offences rightfully cleared.

The government said it was "committed to introducing posthumous pardons for people with certain historical sexual offence convictions who would be innocent of any crime now", but instead spent all day talking the bill out of the commons in an effort to delay the vote on the private member's bill.

The bill's failure has been met with disappointment and frustration from Mr. Leech who has been campaigning for more than five years on the issue. He has accused the government of 'playing political games' with the lives of more than 75,000 people.

Mr Leech said: "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!"

The government said it could not support the bill today as it could repeal criminal acts that would still be classed as unlawful today such as sexual relationships with minors. This is despite the bill specifically including a clause excluding pardons for any person whose offence would still be deemed unlawful today.

Mr Leech concluded: "I am absolutely gutted and devastated at the result today, and completely ashamed of our government."

Alan Turing's groundbreaking work is thought to have brought WWII to an end four years early.

However, at a trial in 1952, Turing admitted to "acts of gross indecency" before being sentenced to chemical castration. His conviction meant he lost his security clearance and was forced to stop work at Bletchley Park.

Aged just 41, he was found dead from cyanide poisoning in 1954 with a half-eaten apple by his side. An inquiry concluded that it was suicide.

In 2013, Alan Turing was given a posthumous royal pardon and an official apology by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, following a high profile campaign led by former Manchester MP John Leech.

The now-councillor, John Leech, submitted several motions to parliament and campaigned hard to secure the historic pardon, stating that it was "utterly disgusting and ultimately just embarrassing" that the conviction was upheld as long as it was.

Following the success of his campaign, Mr Leech turned to securing the pardonfor the 75,895 other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who were unfairly convicted for similar offences.

It was in Manchester, in 1952, that Turing was arrested for having sex with another man, whilst much of his ground-breaking scientific work was conducted at the University of Manchester. Today, mathematics students at the university attend lectures in the building proudly bearing his name.

It is predicted that Turing's work saved the lives of an estimated 14 to 21 million.

Mr Leech said Turing's persecution "by the state for being gay was a scandal that shouldn't have ever been allowed to stand".

The first motion Mr Leech submitted called for a recognition of the "vital contribution made by Alan Turing to Britain's war effort" and "regrets that following his years of national service he received a criminal conviction for having a sexual relationship with another man".

It added that there were 75,895 other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who were unfairly convicted for similar offences and called on the Government to ensure that they too received pardons.

The former Liberal Democrat MP of ten years, John Leech, wrote to the SNP MP John Nicolson, who sponsored the Sexual Offences bill, to thank him for'seeing the campaign through to its very end', adding that it was a 'deeply emotional day for him and his team' despite the bill failing to pass.

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