LGBTI UK

Pressure is being put on the United Kingdom’s Government and Prime Minister, Theresa May to pay financial compensation to those men who were convicted for being gay, prior to homosexual law reform.

The call for compensation follows Theresa May’s and her Government pardoning thousands of men who had been convicted under historic laws that made consensual gay sex illegal.

While the 2017 pardoning offered some degree of relief, many LGBTI and Human Rights groups believe that more needs to be done for the victims who are still alive, and faced wide-spread discrimination for having a criminal record.

Rachel Barnes, who is the great-niece of the late gay mathematical genius Alan Turing, is among those who delivered a compensation request letter to the UK prime minister at number 10 Downing Street.

Turing who was convicted in 1952 for his homosexuality, was horrifically given the choice of imprisonment or chemical castration, to which he chose the latter, before passing away two years later, possibly by suicide, at just 41-years-old.

Barnes was joined by activist Peter Tatchell and Stephen Close, who personally suffered for three decades after being convicted of a consenting gay offence in 1983.

“I am sure my great uncle would want gay men who suffered like he did to receive compensation,” commented Barnes.

“They deserve recompense for unjust imprisonment and fines, physical hardship, mental trauma and often impoverishment. No money can ever reverse lost and damaged lives but as a symbolic gesture compensation is important and the right thing to do.”

Close, who was convicted at age 20 for consenting sex with another soldier in 1983, spoke about the impact of his prosecution.

“I was sentenced to six months in a military prison. I lost my job, home, income and pension,” he explained.

“My homosexual conviction and ‘discharge with disgrace’ made it very difficult to get another job. I was near unemployable and was forced to do mediocre, low-paid jobs for three decades years. It caused me severe depression and ruined my life.”

It is estimated that out of the thousands of men who were convicted for being gay prior to, and following, the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967, 10,000 to 20,000 are still alive.

Activist, Peter Tatchell believes that the survivors deserve financial compensation for what they have gone through as a result of homophobic state legislation.

“They often lost their jobs and became near unemployable and semi-destitute because of the stigma associated with having a conviction for a homosexual offence,” he explained.

“Some experienced the break-up of their marriages and lost custody and access to their children. Families and friends disowned them and they were abused and sometimes assaulted in the street. Many descended into a downward spiral of depression, alcoholism, mental illness and suicide or attempted suicide.”

“Private homosexual acts” between men over the age of 21 was legalised in 1967 in England and Wales, in 1980 in Scotland and in 1982 in Northern Ireland. The age of consent was lowered to the heterosexual age of consent of 16 in the year 2000.