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.