Open Letter: Pardoning of 49,000 Gay Men Prior to 1967 Legislation

Open Letter: Pardoning of 49,000 Gay Men Prior to 1967 Legislation
31 Mar 2015
Roy Perestrelo

Re: An Open Letter: The Pardoning the wrongful conviction of 49,000 gay men prior to the 1967 legislation to stop the criminalization of homosexuality in the United Kingdom.

Dear Rt. Hon. David Cameron, Rt. Hon. Nick Clegg, Rt. Hon. Teresa May,

We feel passionately that a picture needs to be painted to show what life would have been like living in the United Kingdom prior to 1967 for a person identifying as homosexual, which would have been a harrowing time. Fearful of expressing your sexuality, openness with family and friends, being able to live the life you were born to live. Imagine for a moment the quality of life these 49,000 individuals and thousands others faced every day of their lives. A Life drowned by fear and unhappiness. No one deserves this existence and it is only justified to consider a full pardoning of these individuals who were convicted under the indecency laws of the time, which included Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing, just two men who made a monumental impact into British culture. To compound this further the ugliness of living with a conviction, which you had no real physical choice over due to the very fabric of your human nature, your sexuality, would have been comparable to being sentenced for the crime of being human.

Our reasoning is one which has been highlighted by many individuals such as Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch and Alan Turings own family; great nephew Nevil Hunt, great niece Rachel Barnes and great nephew Thomas Barnes. All of which can have some solace in the pardoning of one man, which has been coined Turing’s Law. But we would like to highlight the other 49,000 gay men who all had families which from this pardon would show that past members of their family had nothing to be ashamed of regarding their sexuality. If anything it lifts a final stigma on homosexuality in the United Kingdom, one that through countless legislations has taken decades for all to understand that there is no shame in homosexuality.

Since 2003, Reading Pride has been campaigning for equality and diversity throughout our county and beyond, through our festival which attracts 12,000 visitors each year, but until now we have never issued an open letter, but we feel so strongly about this issue to the point that it required us to voice our support for this campaign. It would also send a strong message throughout Europe and beyond that homosexuality is not a crime, it is not something to be ashamed of and it is not something to be imprisoned or die for, which sadly still happens in so many places around the world including the commonwealth nations.

We emphatically support the exoneration of the 49,000 individuals who were convicted under the indecency laws prior to 1967, which did not involve paedophile related crimes or to any laws which have since been revised, such as the harmonization of the age of consent. We at Reading Pride collectively believe in equality and a standard of living past and present which means a life without fear, and this would send a powerful message throughout the world.

Yours sincerely,

Roy Perestrelo, Trustee

Signed jointly The Trustees and Committee Members of Reading Pride