Six decades after his chemical castration and later suicide, Alan Turing, the father of modern computer science and breaker of the Nazis’ Enigma code, is being pardoned on Tuesday for his conviction for homosexuality.
Turing – whose code-breaking work is said to have shortened the second world war by two years – has been granted a posthumous pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy by the Queen, following a U-turn by the UK government.
Hailed as a genius in his own time by colleagues at Bletchley Park, the UK’s wartime code-breaking centre, he was later prosecuted for “homosexual activities” after he reported a burglary at his home in Manchester.
After police discovered that he was gay, they arrested him under Victorian-era laws against homosexuality. An estimated 49,000 gay men, now dead, were criminalised under the now-defunct Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885.