“Alan Turing, the Enigma codebreaker who took his own life after being convicted of gross indecency under anti-homosexuality legislation, is to be given a posthumous pardon,” writes The Guardian today. One of the great mathematicians of the last century, Turing laid the foundations for computer science and played a key role in breaking the Nazi Enigma code during World War II. Despite his contributions to defending Britain, Turing was prosecuted in 1952 for engaging in homosexual acts under an 1885 law that led to the convictions of 49,000 gay men, including Oscar Wilde. It’s a sad tale that gets recounted by another computer pioneer Jaron Lanier here:
For years, supporters have called upon the British government to issue a posthumous pardon. And while British Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologized in 2010 for “the appalling way [Turing] was treated,” members of the House of Lords resisted issuing an actual pardon as recently as last year. But, according to The Guardian, legislators are prepared to pass a new bill as early as this October. As many of our readers will be quick to point out, the concept of a pardon is a bit strange, seeing that Turing did nothing wrong. But the willingness of the government to effectively nullify the conviction and reject an archaic law is a welcomed piece of news.