Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Finally! Alan Turing Given Posthumous Pardon

Alan Turing, the British mathematician who created the Turing machine—considered the model for the modern computer—was responsible for breaking German codes, including the method of finding the settings for the German Enigma machine.

But, Alan Turing was also gay, and that was a crime. After the war, in 1952, Alan Turing was arrested on the grounds of gross indecency and, to avoid prison, he consented to chemical castration as his punishment.

He committed suicide in 1954.

For years people have worked to have Turing pardoned based not only on the idea that being gay is not a crime, but also based on his many accomplishments that helped England, and the world, during World War II.

In September 2009, following an Internet campaign, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for "the appalling way [Turing] was treated." And then in May 2012, a private member's bill was put before the House of Lords to grant Turing a statutory pardon.

Now, finally, nearly sixty years after his death by cyanide poisoning, it looks like Alan Turing will get his pardon.

The announcement by Parliament marks a change of heart by the government, which just last year had declined to grant pardons to the 49,000 now dead gay men—including Oscar Wilde—who were convicted under the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, a government whip: "Alan Turing himself believed that homosexual activity would be made legal by a royal commission. In fact, appropriately, it was parliament which decriminalised the activity for which he was convicted. The government are very aware of the calls to pardon Turing, given his outstanding achievements, and have great sympathy with this objective … That is why the government believe it is right that parliament should be free to respond to this bill in whatever way its conscience dictates and in whatever way it so wills."


It took them awhile, but finally Alan Turing’s so-called criminal history, his crimes, will be erased from his record. Alan Turing committed no crime, and all he should be remembered for are the gifts he gave the world.

7 comments:

Mitchell is Moving said...

So good to know. It's hard to believe that this awful thing went on in such recent history (and is still going on so many parts of the world).

Ron said...

Oh I believe governments criminalized homosexuals. When I joined the Army I didn't ask to be sent to the National Security Agency. I was and I lived 2 1/2 years of constant stress that I would be outed as a "homosexual" even though I never engaged in sexual activity. All one had to do to lose one's security clearance was be accused of being a homosexual. The Army discharged you with a "less than desirable" discharge. Then one had to worry about the local (Pennsylvania in my case) government bringing charges against one just for being homosexual, which was against the law. I saw this happen to a fellow soldier friend of mine whose name also happened to be "Ron." I think he even served a few months in prison. I dared not talk to him after his was outed for fear I would lose my clearance by association. I wanted to make the Army a career or even stay at NSA as a civilian but, of course couldn't because I was a "criminal." To those of you who find it hard to believe that government acted in such an inhumane way against their loyal soldiers and government employees, believe it. Thank God those days are over.

anne marie in philly said...

and to think states want to go back to laws like that...really boggles the mind. :-/

Biki Honko said...

Now they need to make sure the history books for school kids reflect the change, and to make sure he gets the honor he so rightly deserves for all of his work helping to defeat Nazi Germany.

Raybeard said...

I think there's still some doubt whether it actually was suicide - something about the 'culprit apple' having been destroyed before it had been properly examined, its discovered proximity to a syringe having led to an assumption that the apple had been deliberately injected, whereas it MIGHT have been accidentally contaminated. (Turing was a notoriously untidy individual.) But, suicide or not, he WAS undoubtedly a hero and thoroughly deserves historical recognition and this belated public apology for his being a notable victim of the cruel mores of those unenlightened times. No one can seriously deny that the entire story is an epic tragedy and gross miscarriage of justice.

Kyle Leach said...

Sometimes justice is a slow poke, but it's always better to be late with an apology, than to have none at all.

the dogs' mother said...

We owe this man SO MUCH.