While Mass Pardons Sought in UK, Africans are Still being Arrested Under old Penal Codes
While the United Kingdom seeks to right the wrong against homosexuals, its influence in the form of Colonial era Penal Codes, still haunt Africa. The Penal Codes serving to underpin much of the persecution against LGBTI people in Africa today, have their root in of the Colonial era, courtesy United Kingdom. Now Oscar-nominated actor Benedict Cumberbatch and openly gay entertainer Stephen Fry are calling on the British government to pardon gay and bisexual men convicted in the past under the defunct “gross indecency” laws, also remnants of that anti-homosexuality era.
They submitted a letter, which was published Saturday in the Guardian, praising the government for the 2013 pardon of World War II code breaker Alan Turing, whom Cumberbatch portrays in the movie “The Imitation Game.” Turing, a gay man, who played a vital role in breaking the German wartime code, was praised by Winston Churchill as having made “the single biggest contribution” to the Allied victory in World War II.
Turing was convicted of gross indecency and sentenced to chemical castration in 1952, for the simple fact that he was gay. Homosexuality was only decriminalised in 1967, but which point Turing had already committed suicide by cyanide poisoning. In 2013, the Queen issued a pardon for his "crime", finally wiping clean his record.
The letter points out that 49,000 other men convicted under the same law also should be pardoned.
The open letter, has been signed by more than 40,000 people and calls on the royal family to support the movement.
It asks the government to pardon all those convicted of a crime because of their sexuality, which could led to the records of an estimated 15,000 men alive today being expunged.
“The UK’s homophobic laws made the lives of generations of gay and bisexual men intolerable,” the letter said. At this time, arrests and persecution as a direct result of old English penal codes continue to plague many in different African countries, still leading to beatings, torture, arrests and suicides.
The letter does not mention how others around the globe still suffer under similar laws introduced by Great Britain during the Colonial era, and the continued persecution of gays,lesbians, bisexual and transgender Africans, as countries continue to rely on these laws to suppress sexual orientation.
Melanie Nathan, Executive Director of African HRC notes: “Arrests and persecution abound in several African countries, where these Penal Codes remain the law of the land. The United Kingdom must set this imperative example by pardoning every single gay person convicted under its persecutory laws, not only to right the awful wrong, but also to set the stage for those still subject to criminalization directly impacted by English Colonialism.”
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