The New Zealand Herald

Play takes on tough is­sue of gay par­dons

- Ethan Sills Society · Amy Adams · New Zealand · United Kingdom · Alan Turing · Lunt · Oscar Wilde

Ear­lier this month, Jus­tice Min­is­ter Amy Adams an­nounced a law re­form al­low­ing New Zealand men with his­toric con­vic­tions for ho­mo­sex­ual acts to be par­doned.

It fol­lows re­cent law changes in the United King­dom which were sparked when WWII code breaker Alan Tur­ing re­ceived a post­hu­mous royal par­don in 2013.

For lo­cal play­wright Stephen Lunt, the move doesn’t go far enough. He sees it as only one step, say­ing there are still men who are ex­cluded from ap­ply­ing and it’s un­clear whether fam­i­lies can ap­ply on be­half of a de­ceased rel­a­tive.

“A lot of the re­ports praise it as solv­ing the prob­lem but it hasn’t, not at all,” Lunt says.

“When the UK first an­nounced it, only about 350 peo­ple ap­plied and since then only 86 have been par­doned. I feel like there has been one step. More work needs to be done by the Gov­ern­ment.”

Lunt tack­les the is­sue in his new play, Par­don Me Alan Tur­ing, at Te Pou the­atre as part of the Auck­land Fringe and Pride fes­ti­vals. It fo­cuses on Tur­ing and Os­car Wilde through the eyes of a jour­nal­ist look­ing into the lo­gis­tics of get­ting gay men par­doned.

“I liked the idea of these two meet­ing up, given how com­pletely dif­fer­ent they were,” Lunt says.

The flash­backs con­sider the dif­fi­cul­ties the men faced in their per­sonal lives, fac­ing sim­i­lar re­ac­tions from fam­ily and friends de­spite mov­ing in dif­fer­ent so­cial cir­cles.

While it proves an im­por­tant les­son on the lives of two fa­mous gay men, the play also tack­les the ques­tion of why Tur­ing was orig­i­nally alone in be­ing par­doned, whereas those such as Wilde had to wait to have their con­vic­tions cleared. It also asks if the par­don is enough.

“Be­cause it’s been cen­turies of laws that have dis­crim­i­nated against ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, and the dam­age done by gov­ern­ments and so­ci­eties, it’s go­ing to take . . . a long time to rec­tify, if ever,” Lunt says.

The tim­ing of the an­nounce­ment makes the new play feel slightly dated, but it gets an edge by dis­sect­ing the prob­lems that sur­round the par­don­ing laws. While Lunt agrees a blan­ket par­don wouldn’t work, he thinks that more needs to be done, par­tic­u­larly in New Zealand where par­dons will be re­viewed on a caseby-case ba­sis.

 ??  ?? Par­don Me Alan Tur­ing looks at the so­cial and po­lit­i­cal hur­dles faced by Alan Tur­ing and Os­car Wilde.
Par­don Me Alan Tur­ing looks at the so­cial and po­lit­i­cal hur­dles faced by Alan Tur­ing and Os­car Wilde.

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