Should we pardon all homosexuals who, in the past, were convicted under laws prohibiting sodomy or indecency or soliciting? The gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell thinks we should: 'Pardon all convicted gay men, not just (Alan) Turing' is the headline of his latest press statement. It certainly makes more sense than simply pardoning Turing, retrospectively, simply because he was quite handy with a computer. I simply don’t understand how Turing can be pardoned when others, convicted in the same period, will still have the crimes written against their names. It is grotesquely unjust.
But then I’m not sure about this pardoning business, full stop. It is a product of the Tyranny of Now: everything we believe today is right and must not be gainsaid and, further, history should be rewritten if it transgresses our modern sensibilities. I do not think that gay people should be locked up for sodomy (although soliciting and indecency might be a different matter). But I am as much a product of my time as the next man in the toilet cubicle.