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Queen pardons famed code breaker, ‘convicted homosexual’ Alan Turing

Monday, December 23, 2013

LONDON — Nearly 60 years after his death, Queen Elizabeth II has formally pardon famed British mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing.

Turing, widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence and most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes during World War II, was chemically castrated after being convicted in 1952 of “gross indecency” with another man.

Alan Turing

Alan Turing

Turing has been officially pardoned by Elizabeth II under the little-known Royal Prerogative of Mercy.

“We in consideration of circumstances humbly represented unto us, are graciously pleased to extend our grace and mercy unto the said Alan Mathison Turing and to grant him our free pardon posthumously in respect of the said convictions,” reads the Queen’s pardon.

The pardon comes after a change of heart by British government, which had previously insisted that Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offense.

Turing, who was gay, 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.

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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.

“Turing was an exceptional man with a brilliant mind,” Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said in a prepared statement released Tuesday. Describing Turing’s treatment as unjust, Grayling said the code breaker “deserves to be remembered and recognized for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science.”

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122 more reader comments:

  1. should of never been convicted in the first place, people shouldn’t be judge at all!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:53pm
  2. Agreed, but at least this sort of reparation and drive for equality is sweeping across multiple countries. That's the important thing.

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:56pm
  3. hopefully the south is the US changes one day

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:56pm
  4. They will, even if they have to have their noses rubbed in it again, like they did with the Civil Rights movement. Of course, I speak of the hateful politicians and others in power, not the average person. So long as the law recognizes equal rights, the average person's opinion doesn't mean much.

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:58pm
  5. too many rednecks down there :(

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:59pm
  6. Too many rednecks down here.

    Replied on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:17am
  7. Not necessarily. And as other states change it continues to get harder in states like Florida and Texas that have a continuing slight lean to the left in many parts of those states to stay ignorant...

    Replied on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:52am
  8. Should have*

    Replied on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 3:53am
  9. Oh my Buddha… it took long enough… and poor Turing had to endure hell in his personal life.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:54pm
  10. YES!!!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:55pm
  11. About code cracking time!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:55pm
  12. It’s almost a slap in the face coming this late.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:55pm
  13. This is awesome. Now I’m really a happy-gay computer scientist

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:55pm
  14. That awkward moment when people on Facebook rant against homosexuality. Computer science was developed by a gay man.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:55pm
  15. Imagine how much further we could be if he could have been free to to himself.

    Replied on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:16am
  16. Was just reading about him in that book about my relative, Agent Garbo.

    Replied on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:33am
  17. and a woman.

    Replied on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:27am
  18. gay man, and a woman :p

    Replied on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 4:41am
  19. uh people lol

    Replied on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 11:12am
  20. The ironies and injustices of life I guess. But in the end some people look great with egg on their face. :-)

    Replied on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:00pm
  21. Think where we’d be if this never happened.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:56pm
  22. Very timely, just like the Royal Family – totally out of date!!!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:57pm
  23. Such atrocities we’ve committed against our fellow man…
    It always breaks my heart. May he rest in peace.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:57pm
  24. 60 years too late

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:57pm
  25. Shes moving forward

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:59pm
  26. Thanks, Your fuckin Majesty. I guess Turing is REALLY happy to hear about this, despite the lateness and all…

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:59pm
  27. What a shame

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:02am
  28. Big of her.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:03am
  29. Wow, that’s actually insulting how long it took after his death… Just a bit like the Catholic Church with Galileo…

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:05am
  30. Oh this is so sad! That poor man! How could people be so cruel!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:05am
  31. Fashionably late?

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:05am
  32. Awfully good of her.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:09am
  33. It’s hard to imagine what more this man might have accomplished. Essentially inventing computer science and helping to win WWII would have been just the start!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:10am
  34. ‘convicted homosexual’… wow, okay.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:10am
  35. Oh…goody.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:11am
  36. You can’t pardon what was never wrong in the first place.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:12am
  37. Wow, sad ,thanks for your help for saving lots of lives. Here let me stab you in the back for all your help… geesh

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:13am
  38. it’s about time!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:14am
  39. Imagine how much further we could be if he could have been free to to himself.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:16am
  40. funny how they wanna pardon the man give him all these achievements now the man isn’t alive

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:18am
  41. Finally…he only saved England and changed the world.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:19am
  42. … They owe an apology not a pardon.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:20am
  43. and reparations

    Replied on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:52am
  44. The queen does as she is told, no one really knows her views so I take it as the government wanting to look good. Tis the season and all that.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:21am
  45. Tragic story. Perhaps it should be Queen Elizabeth II that needs pardoning. Shame on her for not standing up much sooner.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:24am
  46. I don’t need a stupid pardon from they, they has to thank to the people because they still living from then. Also they are mortals like us, I dont offer reverences to humans only to God the only one supremacy

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:25am
  47. Yay!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:25am
  48. It is not a pardon the queen did not sign some arse called Chris Grayling

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:25am
  49. A day late and a dollar short.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:34am
  50. A little late on that!! Poor guy!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:35am
  51. Wow… I didn’t know this. Shame on you England…! I am so sure all of these validated all of this bullying going around…

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:37am
  52. THE Queen had mercy on A Queen. How nice. LOL.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:38am
  53. Good

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:40am
  54. A good example of how homophobia and bigotry made waste of a wonderful intelligent man. I wonder what else he could have contributed to humankind if he’d lived longer & been allowed love & happiness.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:46am
  55. Although the pardon is wonderful… the need for it is horrific. This poor, brilliant man. RIP Mr. Turing.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:50am
  56. It’s about time!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:52am
  57. It’s a nice thing to know that she has a little compassion after all.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:54am
  58. About time!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:56am
  59. .bout time!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:01am
  60. This should have never been an issue!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:02am
  61. About bloody time

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:03am
  62. What they did to him was a crime. This man essentially invented the modern computer.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:10am
  63. Fuck You.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:14am
  64. Knight him!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:15am
  65. Hmmm I wonder if he would pardon the government because that who really needs forgiveness. -SVJ

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:32am
  66. Chemically castrated??!! WTF! No wonder the man committed suicide.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:40am
  67. Took long enough.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:43am
  68. Too little, too late. It was still a nice gesture.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:45am
  69. It was an injustice that he suffered while he helped liberate humanity from Hitler’s dictatorship!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:51am
  70. Proving once again that who we sleep with, or love, is only a tiny part of us, and hardly the most important.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:55am
  71. Amen, Bryna.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 2:01am
  72. Far too little too late! Liz II should have knighted him for service to the realm …. he saved millions of heterosexual asses in Britain from the NAZI’s and they punished him …. that’s what happens when you try to help a bunch of fucking bigots!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 2:07am
  73. Such a sad story.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 2:22am
  74. They should be asking for forgiveness rather than pardoning him.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 2:25am
  75. YES!!!! Shame he had to die to help prove a point years later :(

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 2:32am
  76. About frickin’ time!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 2:50am
  77. Finally!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 2:59am
  78. The pardon is nice, but I think they should be posthumously begging his forgiveness too.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 3:00am
  79. They turned this down many times, if i recall correctly; about time they pardoned him.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 3:10am
  80. That’s right. Too late for Alan and his family as well

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 3:31am
  81. ;Well, we don’t fucking pardon the crown.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 3:32am
  82. Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 3:45am
  83. about time.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 3:45am
  84. same law that destroyed Oscar Wilde.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 3:45am
  85. Hey everyone like me page

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 3:47am
  86. Screw pardons. How about an apology.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 3:58am
  87. Little late, innit?

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 3:58am
  88. Garry Koenigsberg – you are absolutely right. An apology is well over due for this cruel and unjust act and lack of respect for a patriot and hero.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 4:06am
  89. Too little too late

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 4:23am
  90. Too little too late? Yes. Still the right thing to do? Also yes. Am I pleased that she did this, rather than letting it sit idle waiting for her successor? Also yes. An apology, post humous knighthood, and the establishment of a scholarship or foundation in his honour should absolutely be next, and soon

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 4:34am
  91. Swell. The queen gets a publicity grab and the nodding approval of those so amazed by her “most gracious justice”, whilst the dead man gets absolutely nothing in return, not even proper admittance that he was right, they were wrong; its already been said here, but a “pardon” is NOT an apology, because it’s making the suggestion that HE is to be forgiven, NOT the shitheads who actually did wrong. Sorry, I just cant be optimistic about this. Just because she’s royalty doesn’t mean anything, this whole scenario is just fundamentally wrong.

    Sing it with me now:
    God save the queen; ‘Cause tourists love money; And our figurehead; Is not what she seems
    C’mon, you know the rest.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 4:41am
  92. A pardon is tantamount to saying they forgive him for being a sexual deviant, and it's insulting to the memory of a genius. We need a total apology and a scholarship set up in his honor.

    Replied on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 11:38am
  93. Well, that’s awfully white of her.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 4:42am
  94. its never to late to admit you fucked up

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 4:54am
  95. What horrible oppression he faced. It’s about time your majesty.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 4:54am
  96. about bleeding time!!!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 6:03am
  97. This is such a heartbreaking story, how horrible and astronomical ignorance, fear and unfounded hate

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 6:24am
  98. Really this man is a hero in many ways poor guy …. But too little to late x

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 6:24am
  99. the right thing to do give him his name back the is the least they can do. this is beautiful such a great thing to read

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 6:57am
  100. I guess the final recognition is good, but kind of too late isn’t it?

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 7:23am
  101. Too little too late. The poor guy killed himself once his sexual orientation was made known.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 7:48am
  102. He’s the Grandaddy of the internet. Damn right he deserved this pardon!!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 7:50am
  103. God bless Her Majesty.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 8:12am
  104. This man is a hero. Here’s to the reason we can all type this today. * raises toast*

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 8:57am
  105. He deserves more then a freaking pardon!! Without him we would have lost WW2 those Uboats would have sunk more ships.. Sigh!!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 9:10am
  106. …and all the other gay men who were similarly treated but didn’t happen to be geniuses? Do they get pardons for being queer?

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 10:16am
  107. Queen Mum should give the throne to her grandson…that wretched Camilla and Charles destroyed Diana. :(

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 10:53am
  108. ’bout time…

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 11:01am
  109. While Turing is a man I admire, a total genius who was treated shamefully, Britain has not uttered one word of apology to the “non famous” who were convicted, humiliated and, let’s not forget, castrated under the same law. The intention of the pardon is shameful on the queen, granted under an act of “Mercy”. Mercy for what? Get off your throne, pull your knickers up and apologise and pardon every single name that was prosecuted for living their lives. THEN you may ask forgiveness for what was done to Turing after the service he did.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 11:09am
  110. Sad story.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 11:23am
  111. That took long enough.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 11:31am
  112. About time too – he should never have suffered the way he did.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 11:36am
  113. It is DISGUSTING that he is being pardoned- the government should be begging HIM for pardon! He saved them in WWII, he was a brilliant mind helping the nation, and they were focused on his sex life? Mind you- not that he was raping or abusing anyone- his adult, consensual sex? They should be begging his pardon. It is disgusting that they think they have something to pardon him for.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 11:48am
  114. What about sick, lesbian, Prossie N being deported back to Uganda??

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 12:34pm
  115. Too little, too late. The royal families, throughout the history of all monarchies, have committed real crimes against humanity and, for the most part, have not held accountable. To be fair, I should include all goverments, because they all have killed and persecuted in the name of ” patriotism”.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:35pm
  116. The QUEEN ROCKS!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:45pm
  117. ‘Bout fucking time, Queenie Never should have arrested this man anyway As bad as the Leo Frank case in Georgia

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:59pm
  118. Glad he was pardoned. All others convicted as he was should also be pardoned. Hope that happens, too. x

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 2:00pm
  119. I can’t ‘like’ this because an innocent man and a brilliant man was hung for nothing.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 2:46pm
  120. Too little, too late your “majesty”.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 3:19pm
  121. How about pardoning the hundreds of other less famous people convicted under the same unjust law?

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 3:22pm
  122. Too late.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 3:36pm