“Father Of Modern Computing” Finally Pardoned For Being Gay — Still Castrated Though…

Alan TuringMerry Christmas, ghost of Alan Turing! Queen Elizabeth II has issued a royal pardon to the WWII mathematician and computer whiz after he was charged with gross indecency in 1952 and as punishment was chemically castrated. He subsequently killed himself two years later.

In 2009, then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued a formal and “unequivocal” apology to Turing, describing his treatment as “horrifying” and “utterly unfair.” A request to have Turing pardoned, however, was denied last year when Justice Minister Lord McNally denied it on the grounds that Turing was justly convicted for what was then a criminal offense.

Turing was an invaluable asset to Great Britain during World War II, helping to break the impossible German Enigma code, but his accomplishments meant nothing under England’s anti-buggery law, Section 11. Turing admitted to a sexual relationship with 19-year-old rough trade Arnold Murray in 1952 and both men were charged with gross indecency.

Murray was given a conditional discharge, but Turing was given an option of imprisonment and probation or an experimental chemical castration treatment. He chose the latter, undergoing injections of synthetic estrogen over the course of a year which left him impotent. Because of his criminal record, Turing not only lost his government security clearance but also his job at Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), where he had been working since the War.

In 1954, he committed suicide by cyanide poisoning, a half-eaten apple by his corpse. Fascinated with Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, many speculated that Turing poisoned himself with the apple like the Evil Queen did to Snow White because if you’re going to go out, why not go out with flare?

Following an online petition, signed by over 35,000 people and backed by world famous scientists including Stephen Hawking, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling made the request for Turing’s pardon to the queen. Her Royal Badness issued a rare “royal prerogative of mercy” and the mathematician’s sentencing will be heretofore considered “unjust and discriminatory.”

Grayling said of the pardon:

“Dr. Alan Turing was an exceptional man with a brilliant mind. His brilliance was put into practice at Bletchley Park during the second world war, where he was pivotal to breaking the Enigma code, helping to end the war and save thousands of lives.

“His later life was overshadowed by his conviction for homosexual activity, a sentence we would now consider unjust and discriminatory and which has now been repealed.

“Dr Turing deserves to be remembered and recognised for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science. A pardon from the Queen is a fitting tribute to an exceptional man.”

Prime Minister David Cameron echoed his sentiments, calling Turing a “remarkable man” whose “actions saved countless lives. He also left a remarkable national legacy through his substantial scientific achievements, often being referred to as the father of modern computing.”

Oxford math smarty and Turing biographer Dr. Andrew Hodges, however, feels the pardon “adds nothing” and is instead asking to see the receipts files from Turing’s secret Cold War work for the GCHQ. “Loss of security clearance, state distrust and surveillance may have been crucial factors in the two years leading up to his death in 1954,” Hodges told The Guardian.

Referring to his 1983 biography, Alan Turing: The Enigma, Hodges noted, “It’s far more important that in the 30 years since I brought the story to public attention, LGBT rights movements have succeeded with a complete change in the law – for all.”

Meanwhile, Alan Turing: The Enigma will get the big screen treatment next year when Benedict Cumberbatch steps into the tragic mathematician’s shoes in The Intimidation Game. Not sure how gay it’s going to be since Keira Knightley plays short-lived fiancée and plucky good sport Joan Clarke. When Turing admitted his homosexuality to Clarke, she was reportedly “unfazed.”

tumblr_mrbm50zPiL1re6b50o1_500Nailed it.


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  • jimbryant

    Alan Turing was not arrested for “being gay”. He was arrested for loitering eith intent to commit sodomy. It has never been illegal to “be gay”.

    These sodomy laws were designed to target male-male sodomy and not male-female sodomy or female-female sodomy. Women used these laws to conduct a homophobic gender war against male homosexuality.

  • iMort

    @jimbryant: Women used these laws?

  • viveutvivas

    I saw this reported on SkyNews when I was channel surfing. I found it disturbing how they managed NOT to mention the fact that he was tortured by hormonal castration.

  • Lefty

    @jimbryant: Hi, why did you change your name after posting on here for years as “Jason”?
    Und, do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and think, “Christ, I’m as mad as a march hare!!!”?

  • 2eo

    @viveutvivas: Tories are in power, Sky are ran by Tories. Tories tortured him.

    A genuine legend, a colossal example of great British thinking. Bletchley Park is possibly my favourite place in the UK to visit. What those halfwits did to him was atrocious, and I hope their names are eventually made public.

  • AuntieChrist

    @2eo: And it wasn’t just Turing or Great Britain in the US various methods were employed to correct homosexuality including electroshock therapy and lobotomies it was not uncommon to simply lock people up and then use them as human lab rats…Unfortunately most of the history of gay culture is spotty at best and young gays do not care one wit about any of it…I think the films And The Band Played On and Torch Song Trilogy should be required viewing for all young gay folk.

  • tardis

    What a horrific story. Poor guy…

  • QJ201

    @jim bryant. Okay troll. Not illegal to be gay, just illegal to act on it. Gee you comment was so insightful and brought so much to the conversation.

    This site needs moderation or registration and so does TR. Trolls abound.

    Anyway, next time some hater says gays never do anything to contribute to society just tell them, well if it weren’t for a gay man you might just be wearing a swastiska and in 10 years you may have a rapid cancer screening thanks to a gay teenager.

  • Kangol

    Many years too late, but at least Britain is finally pardoning Alan Turing for actions that should never have been criminalized, and apologizing for having destroyed his life. It’s also good that the British government recognizes Turing’s incredible importance and genius, a pioneer in computer science, AI, mathematics, and other fields.

  • Tyler100


    Jim, you lie through your teeth so hard they’ve been warn down to nubs. Which is good because it means you can’t pop your (inflatable) boyfriend when you get a little too over zealous with a bj.

  • hyhybt

    @QJ201: This site *has* registration, though the moderation is often slow.

    I’m not sure the point of a posthumous pardon, but there’s no harm in it at least.

    Merry Christmas, Queerty.

  • fagburn

    No one uses the term “chemical castration” anymore, it’s a highly emotive term – for being given drugs to lower your libido.

    It is also unclear whether Turing committed suicide – and if he did it was some time after the hormone therapy had ended.

  • mcflyer54

    @Donna W. Ferreira: SPAM – ignore and move on.

  • AuntieChrist

    Professor Jack Copeland (philosophy) has questioned various aspects of the coroner’s historical verdict, suggesting the alternative explanation of the accidental inhalation of cyanide fumes from an apparatus for gold electroplating spoons, using potassium cyanide to dissolve the gold, which Turing had set up in his tiny spare room. Copeland notes that the autopsy findings were more consistent with inhalation than with ingestion of the poison. Turing also habitually ate an apple before bed, and it was not unusual for it to be discarded half-eaten. In addition, Turing had reportedly borne his legal setbacks and hormone treatment (which had been discontinued a year previously) “with good humour” and had shown no sign of despondency prior to his death, in fact, setting down a list of tasks he intended to complete upon return to his office after the holiday weekend. At the time, Turing’s mother believed that the ingestion was accidental, caused by her son’s careless storage of laboratory chemicals. Biographer Andrew Hodges suggests that Turing may have arranged the cyanide experiment deliberately, to give his mother some plausible deniability.

  • hyhybt

    @AuntieChrist: Interesting.

  • viveutvivas

    @fagburn, you prefer using a euphemism what they did to him? Why?

    He was forcibly given estrogen, which inhibits the hypothalamic-pituitary-testes axis – in other words, it turns off the signal to the testicles to make testosterone and causes them to atrophy. That is castration. Its action on the brain causes deep depression in men. He also grew breasts. The effects may be permanent after cessation of the estrogen – the breasts certainly are and the testicles may take a long time to recover if at all, and the depression can certainly last a long time.

    @AuntyChrist, everyone knows that depression, especially suicidal depression, is often disguised as “good humor”. And estrogen in large quantities causes depression due to its action on the male brain – nobody is exempt – not to mention the mental effect of permanent body shape changes and beasts.

  • Pistolo

    Alan Turing was also circumcised as a child (not a baby) and deeply resented it. I feel like that may have influenced his decision to opt for the castration in some way, he was a man shamed into miserable self-destruction. So sad.

    It’s maybe one of the worst violations imaginable, just don’t mess with a person’s genitals. As a guy, a gay guy to boot, I can’t imagine what it must be like to resent your dick. It sounds like a jokey thing to say but it really isn’t…it’s such an emotional, complex, important organ. I even think circumcising is just going much too far, of course it’s not as debilitating as outright castrating it’s just cruel.

  • viveutvivas

    There are still about 70,000 other men who were prosecuted for homosexuality and haven’t been pardoned. Many of them are still alive. What is the U.K going to do about them, I wonder.

  • Ruhlmann

    @fagburn: It was sometime after he’d grown breasts.

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