Conservative justice minister Sam Gyimah staged a sucessful filibuster during the Parliamentary debate over "Turing's law", which would make the 65,000 men convicted of "gross indecency" under various UK anti-sodomy laws eligible for pardons, clearing their criminal records.
Gyimah said he objected to the bill on the grounds that it might end up pardoning men who had had sex with minors or who had been engaged in rape.
Labour MP Chris Bryant, who is gay, spoke in favour of the bill, coming close to tears, and said that Gyimah's fears were not well-founded, and that the law would not pardon rapists or men who'd had sex with minors, because it only offered pardons for people whose offenses were "no longer a crime," and both rape and sex with children are still crimes.
Gyimah's filibuster ran out the clock on the debate, preventing the advancement of the bill through to becoming law. Gyimah claims he will introduce measures to prevent the imaginary bad outcomes of the original bill and get things started again.
Many have spoken against Turing's Law as being insufficient remedy for the injustice of the tens of thousands of lives ruined by the old laws, saying that the UK government owed those convicted an apology, not a pardon, and objecting to the fact that the bill only automatically pardons the dead, while living survivors of governmental persecution have to apply to be pardoned.
Bryant, the former shadow leader of the House of Commons, fought back tears in parliament as he said it was not good enough for the government to automatically pardon those who are deceased while requiring the living to apply to the Home Office.
“Why on earth would you want to write to the home secretary and say, ‘Please can I be pardoned’?” he asked. “Why on earth would you want to go through a process all over again? Why on earth would you want someone to analyse whether or not you were guilty at all way back when?”
Speaking in parliament, Bryant recalled a group of gay and bisexual MPs who opposed the appeasement of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s, but were bullied by the government of the day and branded the “glamour boys”. He said they and others should receive “something that feels like an apology”.
Conservative minister obstructs progression of gay pardon law [Rowena Mason/The Guardian]
(Image: Sam Gyimah MP at Policy Exchange, Policy Exchange, CC-BY)