The Queen Pardons Persecuted Gay British Codebreaker Alan Turning 60 Years After His Death
Alan Turing, a British code-breaker during World War II who’s skills and mathematics genius helped lead allied forces to victory over Germany has received a royal pardon nearly 60 years after he committed suicide because of his criminal persecution and the chemical castration he was forced to suffer because of being gay by the country of England in the 1950’s.
Turing developed the Bombe, a code-breaking machine that deciphered messages encoded by German machines. His work helped change the course of the war and save thousands of lives but when his homosexuality became known he was arrested and convicted of homosexual activity, which was illegal at the time and was forces to make a decision between being chemically castrated or prison time. Two years after the castration in 1954 Turing chose ended his life at the age of 41 by eating an apple laced with cyanide.
Supporters have long campaigned for Turing to receive greater recognition for his work and official acknowledgment that his punishment was wrong.
Dr. Turing deserves to be remembered and recognized for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science,” British Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said in a statement Tuesday. “A pardon from the Queen is a fitting tribute to an exceptional man.”
In 2009 a petition that garnered tens of thousands of signatures succeeded in getting an apology from then Prime Minister Gordon Brown for Turing’s treatment by the justice system in the 1950s. Brown described the Turing sentence as “appalling.”
“He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war,” he wrote, adding, “The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely.”
After the announcement of the pardon British Prime Minister David Cameron said Alan Turing was a remarkable man who played a key role in saving this country in World War II by cracking the German enigma code. “His action saved countless lives. He also left a remarkable national legacy through his substantial scientific achievements, often being referred to as the ‘father of modern computing.’ ”
The pardon, under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy, goes into effect Tuesday. .