Unusually for a Friday I was in Parliament, rather than the constituency. The House of Commons was debating a 'Private Member's Bill' (changes to the law proposed by an individual MP, rather than by the Government) put forward by John Nicolson MP, the SNP MP for East Dunbartonshire.
John's Bill is designed to 'pardon' gay and bisexual men convicted at a time when homosexuality was illegal. One of those men was Alan Turing, the legendary codebreaker at Bletchley Park who cracked the Enigma code, which gave the allies a major advantage over the Nazis during World War II. Without Turing, we may not have beaten the tide of fascism across Europe and yet he was later convicted, sentenced and chemically castrated for being gay, before committing suicide two years later.
There are many elderly people in Britain today who, like Alan Turing, were convicted for being themselves and have had to endure a lifetime with criminal records and cautions. John Nicolson's Bill would enable them to strike those offences and cautions from their records.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to vote on the Bill, because of Parliamentary trickery on the part of the Conservative Minister, Sam Gyimah. He deliberately spoke for more than 20 minutes at the end of the debate to prevent us from voting on the issue. This was terrible behaviour and the sort of thing that brings Parliament into disrepute. SNP, Conservative and Labour MPs who proposed the Bill deserved better and those victims of Britain's disgraceful anti-gay laws certainly deserved better.
Lesbian, gay and bisexual people are no longer persecuted by the law in Britain, but we still suffer discrimination and prejudice. There is a mental health crisis facing Britain's gay community. We are more likely to suffer depression and anxiety and LGBT young people growing up in Britain today are more likely to self-harm and attempt suicide because of the bullying and rejection they suffer. Turing's Law and initiatives like LGBT History Month can help us change hearts and minds, too.
Those convicted under these historic offences deserve real justice. They may have been legally convicted, but they were unjustly convicted. It is time for us to confront our past and to shape a better future.
You can view my speech here: