The times they are a changin.’ Bob Dylan’s chilling refrain echoes in our ears as Lord John Sharkey announces that under new legislation, thousands of gay and bisexual men will receive posthumous pardons from the UK government. The amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill intends to pardon people convicted of sexual offenses that would otherwise be considered legal today, such as consensual sexual relationships between the same-sex. Dubbed the ‘Alan Turing Law,’ the policy builds upon the case of the Enigma code breaker Alan Turing who helped decode cryptic messages during World War II. Living in an epoch of intolerance, the war hero did not live to see the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1967. Turing was forced to undergo chemical castration as an alternative to prison after being convicted of gross indecency and losing his job at the secret service—posthumously pardoned by Queen Elizabeth II, 61 years after the initial charge.
For Oscar Wilde, “a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” Imprisoned and exiled for charges of homosexuality, Wilde felt the injustices of his time, which restricted the love he envisioned as boundary less, to heterosexual couples. A visionary ahead of his time, the renegade poet and novelist challenged societal conventions and dreamt of equality on all fronts—and the time for rectitude is now. The amendment to Britain’s Protection of Freedoms Act is a monumental, symbolic step in the right direction, signifying “a momentous day for thousands of families up and down the UK who have been campaigning on this issue for decades.”