Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Royal Pardon for Alan Turing takes effect today

Here's a chilling story from the BBC about the great Alan Turing, who effective today is pardoned in Britain from his 1952 conviction for homosexuality. The ghost of Christmas past reminds us that what is regarded as repugnant can reverse itself over time.

Royal pardon for codebreaker Alan Turing

"Computer pioneer and codebreaker Alan Turing has been given a posthumous royal pardon.

"It overturns his 1952 conviction for homosexuality for which he was punished by being chemically castrated.

"The conviction meant he lost his security clearance and had to stop the code-cracking work that proved critical to the Allies in World War II.

"The pardon was granted under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy after a request by Justice Minister Chris Grayling.

"Turing's work helped accelerate Allied efforts to read German Naval messages enciphered with the Enigma machine. He also contributed some more fundamental work on codebreaking that was only released to public scrutiny in April 2012.

"His later life was overshadowed by his conviction for homosexual activity, a sentence we would now consider unjust and discriminatory and which has now been repealed," said Mr Grayling.

"Turing deserves to be remembered and recognised for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science. A pardon from the Queen is a fitting tribute to an exceptional man."

The pardon comes into effect on 24 December."

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