December 26, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
Queen Elizabeth posthumously pardons Alan Turing

Alan Turing, gay news, Washington Blade

Alan Turing (Photo courtesy of King’s College Library)

Queen Elizabeth II on Dec. 23 posthumously pardoned pioneering mathematician Alan Turing more than six decades after British authorities convicted him of homosexuality.

Turing, whom the New York Times described as the “father of modern computing,” broke Germany’s secret Engima code during World War II.

British authorities in 1952 charged Turing with gross indecency for having a relationship with another man. He underwent chemical castration as an alternative to serving a prison sentence.

Turing committed suicide in 1954 at the age of 41.

“Dr. Turing deserves to be remembered and recognized for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science,” said U.K. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling who signed the pardon, according to PinkNews.co.uk. “A pardon from the queen is a fitting tribute to an exceptional man.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron also welcomed the pardon in a statement.

“His action saved countless lives,” he said, according to the New York Times. “He also left a remarkable national legacy through his substantial scientific achievements, often being referred to as the ‘father of modern computing.’”

Then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009 apologized on behalf of the U.K. government for the way authorities treated Turing in response to a campaign that PinkNews.co.uk, LGBT rights advocate Peter Tatchell and others supported. The British government subsequently rejected an effort to pardon the pioneering mathematician because it said he was “properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence” as PinkNews.co.uk noted.

A bill that would have pardoned Turing stalled earlier this month in the British House of Commons.

Patrick Sammon, former executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, chronicled Turing in a documentary that premiered in D.C. in 2012.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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