U.K. Finally Readying Pardon for Persecuted Gay Computer Genius Alan Turing
A bill has been introduced to the British Members of Parliament that would pardon a pioneer of computing for being convicted of having sex with another man in 1952, the British newspaper the Guardian reported.
The measure has now entered the House of Lords and if passed it could pardon Alan Turing for his conviction of gross indecency with another man in 1952 -- a time when same-sex relations were against the law. "Gross indecency" was also the phrase famously used to convict writer Oscar Wilde.
Turing, who was gay, was a mathematician, code breaker and computer scientist. He is considered by many to be the father of the modern computer and artificial intelligence after he created a formalization of the concepts of "algorithm" and "computation."
He also cracked the Enigma Code, which helped the Allies understand German codes during World War II. Scholars of World War II widely acknowledge Turing’s work as crucial in untimely defeating the Nazis.
But in 1952 he was convicted of gross indecency with another man by a British court. Instead of being sentenced to prison, the scientist decided to accept chemical castration - or hormone therapy. Two years later, Turing committed suicide and was found dead from cyanide poisoning in his home.
Lord Sharkey, a Liberal Democrat who wanted the British government to pardon Turing in February, gave the bill to members of the House of Lords on Wednesday.
"Today, this campaign takes a step forward. I have introduced into the House of Lords a bill which will, if it becomes law, grant a pardon to Dr Turing," Sharkey said. "Alan Turing was a truly great Briton. He was the father of computing; his legacy is with us every time anyone uses a computer anywhere in the world. He also helped save this country. His work on cracking the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park during World War II undoubtedly changed the course of the war and saved many thousands of lives."
"But instead of being rewarded by his country, he was cruelly punished and convicted simply for being gay," he continued. "If my Bill becomes law, as I hope it will, then this will finally go some way towards acknowledging the debt we all owe to Alan Turing and grant him the free pardon he so clearly deserves."
John Leech, a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Commons, co-sponsored the lower house’s bill. Two other members of Parliament helped lead the campaign to pardon Turing.
"This man was hero. It’s as simple as that. And no one should treat heroes like this," Leech said.