Filibustering the Turing Bill was disrespectful

By Maria Mellor

It hasn’t been for very long that the LGBT+ community have had the rights they have now. After all it was only two years ago when same-sex marriage was legalised, and it was not until the 1980s that same-sex sexual acts were decriminalised. So many people have not just been treated poorly by society, but have actually been prosecuted and punished for homosexuality, many of whom are still alive today and are living with outdated convictions.

When plans were revealed to officially pardon all those who were punished before the change in law not only was I pleased, I was running through the town, rainbow banner in hand screaming “about bloody time!”

The private members bill known as the ‘Turing Bill’ would have finally wiped the slate clean for people living and dead who were convicted under archaic laws. It would have been a mark of respect, a message that we’re finally equal. But then what happened? Some jerkwad decides to take the childish way out and filibuster until the time to debate ran out.

There’s no problem with expressing an opinion. There’s no problem in disagreeing with something. However to not even allow a motion to be debated is just ridiculous. The bill could have been passed to the next stage where the flaws would be ironed out, but instead MP Sam Gyimah forced it to fail by running out the clock.

The problem certain politicians had with the bill was the fact that it would give a blanket pardon to anyone effected – living or dead, even those with convictions that are still illegal today such as non-consensual acts or acts with minors. That’s fair enough, you don’t want people who are still considered sex offenders to be pardoned as part of this bill. It doesn’t mean that the entire bill is therefore unreasonable. It just means it may need to be rethought a little. How would we come up with how to rethink it? Debate it! Listen to people’s opinions; use it to form something even better.

Filibustering has its benefits but only really to those doing the filibustering. It’s not exactly a prime example of democracy, but rather a ridiculous, slightly comical but mostly ridiculous method to stop progress through debate. This bill is important and on the surface what happened just looks a little homophobic.

Past blatant homophobia, not even letting the matter be debated is just outright disrespectful. It is estimated that nearly 50,000 men were prosecuted, their lives ruined by British Government policy. A simple gesture to apologise for what happened may be a small comfort but a comfort nonetheless.

It’s looking like the Scottish Parliament will implement their own separate bill that would be specific to Scotland where homosexual acts were not decriminalised until 1980.

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