Last month, a bill named for World War II codebreaker Alan Turing that would have pardoned more than 49,000 men convicted under gross indecency laws failed in the UK Parliament. The government said it would not support the Sexual Offences (Pardons) bill – which also proposes a blanket pardon for the living – because it could potentially lead to some people being cleared of offences that are still crimes. It is estimated that 65,000 people still living will have to apply for a pardon.
— George Montague (@GeorgeMontague2) October 29, 2016
I’m the happiest old gay guy there is, and every day I tell at least one person this, but I can’t get this gross indecency thing out of my head. For some reason, I just woke up one day at 93 and said I have to do something about it.
If you accept the pardon, then you accept that you were guilty. How can I be guilty for being born the way I was? My mother made me a homosexual!
The wheels of politics grind very slowly. It will take a year or two, but we’ll get our apology. I look forward to my 100th birthday. And when that day arrives, this old queen will get a letter from the real queen.
Describing his working-class upbringing, Montague said:
I was born a poor working-class boy. My father was a gardener for the local squire and my mother was the laundress.
I didn’t do very well in school. I was virtually illiterate, but I was very good with my hands and became a patternmaker.
When I was 15 or 16, I thought there was something wrong with me, that I was different from the others. But at that age you sublimate — you just don’t let it take control. You work hard, forget about it and find yourself a girlfriend.
The word homosexual was not used at all. It was such an aberration, such a terrible thing. People automatically thought that you were a pedophile and that was very hurtful. So you did everything to hide it.
At 35, Montague married his wife Vera who accepted that he was gay and “ still in love with the boyfriends I had on and off.” When he and Vera decided to tell their three children, he recalled that his daughter said ‘Oh, Daddy, we’ve known for years.’
— George Montague (@GeorgeMontague2) August 7, 2016
On his arrest and conviction, he said:
If you were gay and lived in a small, country village, the only way to meet other men was to go to the public gents’ toilet. People would write poems or their phone numbers on the wall. They wouldn’t do anything naughty; just use their eyes, and talk and meet people.
The police used to get up into the loft and watch people below.
The police would also pick up a young, vulnerable guy who had done something wrong and take him to the police station and bully and threaten them. He’d give all the names. That was called the queer list.
My name was on the list so I was always very careful.
But one day in 1974, I was in the stall when the police came pounding on the door. I was alone and doing nothing wrong but it didn’t matter.
I was convicted of gross indecency by a local magistrate and forced to resign from the Scouts after 40 years of working with severely disabled boys. In those days, if you were gay, they assumed you were a pedophile, which of course wasn’t true. It was very unjust.
About three years before his wife died, Montague met his partner of 21 years in a bar in London and was “in love with him the morning after I woke up next to him.”
A petition demanding an apology for Montague has so far received almost 7,000 signatures.
Watch an interview with Montague below.
(Image via Facebook)