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UK to finally pardon famed code breaker, ‘convicted homosexual’ Alan Turing

Monday, July 22, 2013

Nearly 60 years after his death, officials in the United Kingdom plan to formally pardon famed British mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing who was chemically castrated after being convicted in 1952 of the crime of homosexuality.

Turing, widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, is most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes during World War II.

Alan Turing

He was also gay, and in 1952 was criminally prosecuted under Britain’s 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act that criminalized homosexual activity and led to the convictions of over 49,000 British men, including Oscar Wilde.

Faced with the prospect of imprisonment, and perhaps with it the loss of the mathematics post he held at Manchester University, which gave him access to one of the world’s only computers, Turing accepted the alternative of “chemical castration” — a series of injections of female hormones that were supposed to suppress his sexual urges.

At age 41, he died of cyanide poisoning on June 7, 1954 in what was ruled a suicide.

Until now, the British government has refused to pardon Turing, but on Friday the government said it would support a bill that would give him a complete posthumous pardon.

Liberal Democrat Lord Sharkey, who rallied on behalf of Turing, said “The government knows that Turing was a hero and a very great man.”

“They acknowledge that he was cruelly treated,” he said, announcing the pardon. “They must have seen the esteem in which he is held here and around the world.”

As long as no one calls for amendments, the legislation should clear Parliament’s House of Lords by late October and reach the House of Commons soon afterward. While there’s no guarantee that the measure will ultimately pass, the rare level of endorsement suggests that Turing’s name would soon be cleared.

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30 more reader comments:

  1. This does what for his life now? This does what to relieve his suffering now? This is a prime example of how the Nazi regime created hatred for homosexuals that never went away.

    Posted on Monday, July 22, 2013 at 5:48pm
  2. How sad!!!!!

    Posted on Monday, July 22, 2013 at 6:00pm
  3. Not quite sure what Nazis have to do with homophobia, but it is a good thing to do if it happens. It´s alway a good thing to admit that a wrong was committed. Then they can pardon everyone else!

    Posted on Monday, July 22, 2013 at 6:21pm
  4. Omg..

    Posted on Monday, July 22, 2013 at 6:32pm
  5. Wow!

    Posted on Monday, July 22, 2013 at 6:43pm
  6. Finally bitches!

    Posted on Monday, July 22, 2013 at 7:01pm
  7. And they say governments act slowly – only 60 years after forced castration and suicide? “Pardon” seems a bit lacking in enthusiasm.

    Posted on Monday, July 22, 2013 at 7:32pm
  8. FINALLY!!!!

    Posted on Monday, July 22, 2013 at 10:46pm
  9. to Frank S…you aren´t sure what Nazis have to do with homophobia????..seriously dude? wow…time to brush up on history..our story…please

    Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 1:02am
  10. yeah 60 years later… thanks for nothing

    Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 4:49am
  11. Recognition of the wrongs of ten past protects the future

    Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 4:50am
  12. I guess now Jamaica can get rid of the antiquated law too?

    Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 4:50am
  13. Public apology plus a posthumous knighthood would be good…..

    Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 5:03am
  14. What a horrific thing to happen. Shame on you UK! Although America is guilty of this too. Not with laws but bulling! Still to this day! We live in fear some homophobe is going to jump us in a dark sidewalk, You hang in groups. I know. I was jumped by 6 cowards! Leaving me with head wounds that required many stitches . I cannot walk at night alone anymore.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 5:04am
  15. It is about God Damned Time!

    Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 5:09am
  16. Benedict Cumberbatch is doing a movie about him.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 5:10am
  17. Pardon who? You, pardon him? Isn´t that like Ike forgiving Tina? Maybe in another 70 years we´ll all be pardoned… For… Erm… Stuff, you know. Oh well, no use crying over spilled blood.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 5:11am
  18. actually, one of the reasons he was caught was because at the time that the police were investigating him it was widely believed that the UK was only a few days away from decriminalizing homosexuality, so he felt more comfortable risking the truth, and came clean to the police, they did NOT decriminalize it, and they threw the book at him. They tried to chemically neuter him with massive doses of estrogen, so much so that he began to grow breasts, and many feel that contributed to instability in his mind that led to his suicide. So they shouldn´t just pardon him, they need to apologize for driving him insane and causing his death!

    Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 5:13am
  19. And still some African Americans still think we shouldn´t compare our struggles with theirs. Shameful!

    Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 5:19am
  20. @Ben, sorry you had to go throught that.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 5:42am
  21. <3 about time, Thank you for everything Alan

    Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 6:37am
  22. What about all the others?

    Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 6:51am
  23. What an atrocity.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 8:43am
  24. I want to clarify a couple of things that have been brought up in the comments. First of all, I can understand why people are getting irritated by the word pardon. But the fact is, is that Turing was found guilty of something, that at the time, was a crime. Because this is given posthumously, it´s a pretty public way of saying, ´Yeah, we really screwed this up.´

    Also, a few years ago they did do a pretty big public apology, in fact Prime Minister Gordon Brown delivered it. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/11/pm-apology-to-alan-turing

    But I agree with ´Occupy Nooga´ I hope they take the time to publically pardon all those who were criminalized, and apologize. In fact, i think it would be good to see a public memorial commissioned in honour of all those criminalized by this archaic law.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 10:47am
  25. BREAKING NEWS: JULY, 23ND 2013
    Catholics giving away a very homophobic/ transphobic program to the pilgrims at world youth day 2013 for Pope´s visit in Brazil.
    GUIDE: “”"KEYS TO BIOETHICS”"”
    http://www.santoprotetor.com/manual-de-bioetica-jmj/
    http://www.rio2013.com/en/agenda

    Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 10:48am
  26. Baby steps in the right direction.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 2:36pm
  27. Just a tad late wouldn´t you say? But at least it´s a gesture.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 3:46pm
  28. Very little and Awful late

    Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 5:04pm
  29. UK sure came a long way. It´s a damn shame they didn´t have laws protecting gays back then.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 5:19pm
  30. they wait that fucking long??? man fuck the uk!!!!!!!!! pieces of shit

    Posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 12:23am