POLITICS
03/03/2015 06:37 GMT | Updated 19/03/2015 07:59 GMT

Ed Miliband's ‘Turing's Law' Will Offer Posthumous Pardons To Gay Men

Ed Miliband has announced a Labour government will offer posthumous pardons to all gay men who were convicted of a crime simply because of their sexuality.

Last year the government gave Second World War code-breaker Alan Turing a pardon. The famous mathematician committed suicide more than 50 years ago after being convicted for being gay.

Today Labour announced it would extend to offer to all gay men convicted under historic indecency laws, should it win the election in May. Miliband said: "What was right for Alan Turing’s family should be right for other families as well.

"The next Labour government will extend the right individuals already have to overturn convictions that society now see as grossly unfair to the relatives of those convicted who have passed away."

SEE ALSO:Turing Was Posthumously Pardoned - But There Are Thousands of Casualties of That Terrible Law

Turing's pardon was welcomed by campaigners who also argued that it should be extended. An online petition calling for the law to include everyone has so far gathered 589,620 signatures.

Writing on The Huffington Post, Matthew Breen, the editor-in-chief of The Advocate, who started the petition, said: "Turing was posthumously pardoned and while he was a hero, there are thousands of casualties of that terrible law, thousands of men who are not heroes, but who cannot be overlooked for justice simply for seeking out the relationships to which all people are entitled.

"When marriage equality was legalized in the UK last March, Prime Minister David Cameron said about the moment, "It says we are a country that will continue to honor its proud traditions of respect, tolerance, and equal worth." In that same spirit of progress, the UK must now acknowledge the appalling punishment and repercussions associated with these convictions, and do what they can to make amends."

Labour's proposed law would allow family and friends of men who have died to bid for their names to be cleared.

Turing, who was pivotal in breaking the Enigma code, arguably shortening the Second World War by at least two years, was chemically castrated following his conviction in 1952.

His conviction for "gross indecency" led to the removal of his security clearance and meant he was no longer able to work for Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), where he had continued to work following service at Bletchley Park during the war.

Turing, who died aged 41 in 1954 and is often described as the father of modern computing, was granted a pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy by the Queen following a request from Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

A pardon is only normally granted when the person is innocent of the offence and where a request has been made by someone with a vested interest such as a family member. But on this occasion a pardon has been issued without either requirement being met.

In September 2009, then-prime minister Gordon Brown issued an apology for the prosecution of Turing after a petition calling for such a move.