Pardon for Turing !

At last, after the disappointing refusal of the House of Lords, Alan Turing was conceded Royal Pardon. Although the pardon comes much too late for Turing, it comes as an upbeat piece of news — for LGBT people and our straight allies, and particularly for LGBT practitioners in Engineering and Computer Sciences.

Some have argued that the pardon is not appropriate, since his conviction was according to the law at the time. Anyone defending that thesis I must refer to Dan Savage :

It was a crime in Switzerland during the Second World War for Swiss citizens help German Jews who were fleeing the Nazis —indeed, “the law at the time required a prosecution” of any Swiss citizen who helped a Jewish refugee escape from Germany: (…) In January of 2004 the Swiss government pardoned Jakob Spirig and all other Swiss citizens who had been prosecuted for helping Jews escape Nazi Germany: (…) Question for the House of Lords: Did the Swiss government err when it pardoned Jakob Spirig ? Or did you err by not pardoning Alan Turing ?

Instead of defending consistency of treatment in the direction of sustaining Turing’s conviction, it seems to me much more reasonable the proposal of Gay Rights activist Peter Tatchel, who 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”.

Considering that (Commonwealth member) Uganda has just passed legislation making homosexual acts punishable up to life in jail, and that Russia is passing laws so ambiguous that might be interpreted as making public expression of homosexuality a crime, such collective pardon would be a powerful message.

2 thoughts on “Pardon for Turing !

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