Last week, the British government indicated that it’s finally prepared to support a bill that would grant Alan Turing, the man famously responsible for breaking the Nazi Enigma code, a posthumous pardon.
Despite Alan Turing’s obvious contributions to the world — the brilliant mathematician and computer scientist is considered to be a World War II hero and the father of artificial intelligence — he was one of 49,000 gay men who were convicted under the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act, according to The Guardian. The law criminalized, among other things, male homosexuality. Turing was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 and sentenced to chemical castration. In 1954, he committed suicide.
In 2009, then prime minister Gordon Brown issued an unequivocal apology for Turing’s treatment on behalf of the British government. But, despite the obvious injustice of Turing’s conviction, the British government in recent years has resisted calls for a pardon.
That is, until now.
According to The Guardian, a liberal democrat Lord Sharkey has been campaigning for Turing’s pardon after he was taught math in the 1960s by Turing’s only doctoral student.
During debate on the measure, Lady Trumpington gave Turing credit for saving the people of Great Britain during World War II. She said, “I am certain that but for his work we would have lost the war through starvation.”
That’s high praise, indeed.
Finally, after more than 60 years, Alan Turing will get the pardon he so richly deserves. Barring any amendments, action on the bill will come in late October, and it is expected to quickly pass the House of Commons.
Photo Credit: John Callas via Wikimedia Commons
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