In remembrance of Alan Turing, the father of computer science, the United Kingdom issued the “Turing Law,” pardoning thousands of gay and bisexual males of abolished sexual offenses.
Those with records of said sexual offenses may reach out to the Home Office to clear their names. Turing was posthumously pardoned in 2013, 60 years after his suicide. Homosexual and bisexual males in the U.K. do not appear to be rejoicing for the decision, seeing that the damage has already been committed. A criminal record with displays of homosexual acts, which were decriminalized in England and Wales back in 1967, could deprive job applicants of being employed.
“It is hugely important that we pardon people convicted of historical sexual offenses who would be innocent of any crime today. Through pardons and the existing disregard process, we will meet our manifesto commitment to put right these wrongs,” stated Justice Minister Sam Gyimah.
The parliament is expected to debate on a bill proposed by John Nicolson, which would instead make the decision a blanket pardon so that everyone living becomes fully pardoned of the outdated offense. But the Nicolson bill allows to make the pardon significant because without the law gay and bisexual males convicted of homosexuality crimes cannot benefit from the decision, even if they are ruled illegal.
The press release issued by the Justice Department reads that the government will not support the Nicolson Bill, arguing that it could lead to people “claiming to be cleared of offenses that are still crimes,” specifically the cases of sex with a minor and non-consensual sexual acts. The Home Office has already rejected a decent amount of cases, mainly those where one of the offenders was a minor and where the act was non-consensual.
Gyimah assured that Nicolson’s requests are valid but that the consequences are not thought-through. The Justice Department’s decision will become part of Britain’s Protection of Freedoms Act. Only 15,000 of the 65,000 men convicted of homosexual sexual activity remain alive.
Alan Turing, the father of theoretical computing
Alan Turing worked for the government’s division of codebreaking during World War II. He was a vital part of the intercepting of Nazi coded messages to gain the upper hand in the battlefield. Winston Churchill called Turing the single most important contributor to the Allied victory, being able to shorten the war by at least two years and save over 14 million lives.
After the war, Turing continued to work in computer science, mathematical biology, and chemistry. But in 1952, when he was 39 years old, he met Arnold Murray and started dating. Turing found that his house was burgled, so he went to the police and acknowledged a sexual relationship with Murray. Both men were charged with gross indecency.
Turing was recommended to plea guilty and chose between prison and probation, with the condition that he must undergo hormonal treatment to lose his sex drive. He was injected with estrogens for a year. Turing became impotent and developed gynecomastia or man-breasts. Because Turing was convicted, he had his security clearance removed and was left out of the government’s cryptography agencies.
Turing was found dead at his house on June 8, 1954, due to cyanide poisoning. At the scene, he was found next to a bitten apple, whose seeds contain the deadly chemical compound.
It is suggested that Turing died an accidental death since he worked with gold electroplates, which need cyanide to dissolve the gold. Turing had that device set up in a nearby room, and acquaintances claim that he always ate an apple before going to bed.
In 2009, a petition was issued to the government for an apology for Turing’s persecution. With over 30,000 signatures, the petition was acknowledged.
“His treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him … So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better” stated former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Another prominent figure from the U.K. convicted for gross indecency was Oscar Wilde. He pleaded not guilty, and the jury was unable to find a verdict at first. He was later imprisoned for two years at Newgate Prison and was sentenced to hard labor, which in reality was picking strings and walking on a treadmill.
Same-sex sexual acts were one punishable by death in the U.K. Protections against discrimination were first enacted in 1999 and the following year gay, and bisexuals were allowed to serve in the armed forces.
In 2005 Wales and England legalized civil partnerships of peoples of the same sex, and nowadays LGBT people enjoy almost the same rights as non-LGBT U.K. citizens. The United Kingdom also has the largest number of LGBTI people serving in parliament.
Source: U.K Government