Alan Turing has received a pardon under the "Royal Prerogative of Mercy by the Queen," 61 years after he was "chemically castrated" by court order as punishment for homosexuality. Less than two years of forced hormone treatments drove him to suicide at the age of 41. The pardon came at the request of the government's justice secretary. It's a wonderful vindication of Turing.
But I agree with Turing's biographer Dr Andrew Hodges, who says that the idea of a pardon for Turing establishes the principal that "a sufficiently valuable individual should be above the law which applies to everyone else." In my view, the Queen should have pardoned every man and woman persecuted under the cruel and unjust law that ruined so many lives.
But I'll take Turing. For now. And if Stephen Fry gets his wish and we get Turing on a bank note, I'll frame one and hang it in my office.
Liberal Democrat peer Lord Sharkey, who introduced the private member's bill in the House of Lords, said: "This has demonstrated wisdom and compassion. It has recognised a very great British hero and made some amends for the cruelty and injustice with which Turing was treated.
"It's a wonderful thing, but we are not quite finished yet. I will continue to campaign for all those convicted as Turing was, simply for being gay, to have their convictions disregarded. That will be a proper and fitting and final end to the Turing story."
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said the royal pardon was long overdue, but also due to "another 50,000-plus men who were also convicted of consenting, victimless homosexual relationships during the 20th century".
Though an inquest recorded a verdict of suicide, Turing's mother and others maintained his death was accidental.
Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing receives royal pardon [Caroline Davies/The Guardian]
(Image: Alan Turing, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from joncallas's photostream)
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