Alan Turing, the British mathematician known for his decryption of enigma machine in the Second World War, is to be granted a post-humous pardon.
Turing was convicted in 1952 due to his sexuality, as homosexuality was still illegal in Britain at that time. To avoid going to prison, Turing accepted the alternative hormone treatment, to supposedly lower the libido. The treatment was a virtual chemical castration, leaving Turing impotent.
Turing died on July 7, 1954. The cause of death was cyanide poisoning, and a nearby apple caused many to speculate he had committed suicide by purposing eating a poisoned apple. However, there is always a possibility an accident occurred.
Turing’s treatment by the British government of the 1950s is all the more appalling considering everything that Turing did for his country.
During the Second World War, Turing lead cryptanalysis of the Enigma. By cracking German codes, the Allied government could gather intelligence and better determine how to concentrate the war effort. Turing designed the bombe, a machine that could decrypt codes more efficiently than previous models.
Outside of his work in the war, Turing can be considered the father of computer science – his innovations lead to the computers we use everyday in the 21st century.
In all, Alan Turing was an incredible person who fully deserves a pardon for his conviction under a discriminatory law. It’s nice to see society getting more progressive! It will be interesting to see if this leads to other pardons for the various 49,000 men also persecuted under the law.
Check out more about this story: