House of Lords Joins Turing Fight

7.19.2013

By Andrew Belonsky

Hero codebreaker may soon be pardoned for having a boyfriend.

In a remarkable turn around, an MP from the House of Lords signaled today that he and his colleagues will vote on and likely approve a long-languishing bill to pardon Alan Turing, the hero code breaker who was convicted of "indecency" for a budding romance with another man. He was chemically castrated in 1952 for that "crime." Two years later, in 1954, 41-year-old Turing killed himself.

Though regarded today as an international hero for deciphering German codes, Turing's reputation nonetheless remained besmirched by that conviction, and despite activists's repeated calls over the years, MPs have consistently pushed the issue aside. Until now.

Independent Lord Ahmad said today that a vote will likely be held on the matter in October. "If nobody tables an amendment to this bill, its supporters can be assured that it will have speedy passage to the House of Commons," Ahmad said. "The government [is] very aware of the calls to pardon Turing, given his outstanding achievements, and have great sympathy with this objective … That is why the government believe it is right that parliament should be free to respond to this bill in whatever way its conscience dictates and in whatever way it so wills."

According to The Guardian, Ahmad noted that Turing, called the father of computer science, predicted this moment would come. "Alan Turing himself believed that homosexual activity would be made legal by a royal commission," said Ahmad. "In fact, appropriately, it was parliament which decriminalized the activity for which he was convicted."

Ahmad's's announcement comes just days after Queen Elizabeth II gave her formal approval to marriage equality in England and Wales.

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