Officials within the British government have indicated they would support a bill to pardon the legendary World War II codebreaker Alan Turing posthumously.
Turing committed suicide in 1954 after being forced to undergo “chemical castration” in 1952 as part of his sentence when it was discovered that he was engaged in a homosexual relationship and convicted of “gross indecency.” The Guardian reports that the bill could be before the lower House of Commons as early as October, of this year.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said:
Alan Turing himself believed that homosexual activity would be made legal by a royal commission. In fact, appropriately, it was parliament which decriminalized the activity for which he was convicted. The government are very aware of the calls to pardon Turing, given his outstanding achievements, and have great sympathy with this objective.
Liberal Democrat Lord Sharkey agreed with Lord Ahmad, also adding, “I am certain that but for [Turing’s] work we would have lost the war through starvation.”
The Associated Press points out that Turing is responsible for creating the “Turing bombe,” which was a “forerunner of modern computers” and helped to crack Nazi Germany’s secret codes. His actions helped to secure an Allied victory. He is also the developer of the “Turing Test” which is used to this day to measure artificial intelligence. He is often referred to as the “Father of Computer Science and AI.”
After being prosecuted and convicted for his same-sex relationship, Turing was stripped of his security clearance and “forcibly treated with female hormones” which were intended to “render him asexual.” He committed suicide at the age of 41 by eating a cyanide laced apple.
Homosexuality was illegal in Britain until 1967.