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Comment: Alan Turing’s pardon is absolutely correct. The reason for it isn’t

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  1. Philip Breen 24 Dec 2013, 3:04pm

    Absolutely right. The pardon of Turing, however well deserved, begs justice for all convicted of the old, spent and victimless gay offences that obtained until the Sexual Offences Act of 2003. Many 1000s are subjected to humiliating DBS disclosures for ‘Gross Indecency’, ‘Soliciting or persistently importuning by man for an immoral purpose’ etc for convictions set up by ‘pretty police routine’/police entrapment. If the gov’t fears the costs of pardons, ‘disregarding’ or at least ‘filtering’ would help many people to put the past behind them. Currently, enhanced disclosures still disclose repealed, spent gay offences as if such presented necessarily generic safeguarding risks.

      1. Philip Breen 24 Dec 2013, 5:47pm

        Thanks for this which will help some people. Sadly, however, section 32 of 1956 SOA ‘Soliciting or persistently importuning by man for an immoral purpose’ is not one of the eligible offences listed. Also, the applicant is required to confirm that the offence didn’t take place in a public lavatory. Many arrested under old section 32 were not engaged in ‘sexual activity in a public lavatory’, they were, at most, loitering with intent (the name given to an older version of that offence which, ironically, does qualify for disregarding), & often picking someone up to go elsewhere. If they were doing anything specifically sexual there, they were prosecuted, either for ‘indecent exposure’ or, if another were involved, for ‘gross indecency’. These were repealed in 2003 SOA & a new offence created under section 71: ‘Sexual activity in a public lavatory’. So, because men were arrested in a lavatory, rather than in a cruising ground, it is still presumed sexual activity had taken place.

      2. “Regarded as spent” is the same for a thief who has been conviction-free for many years. One is still officially a convicted and sentenced criminal in the eyes of the law, but is not expected to disclose the fact to (e.g.) potential employers. Hardly a case of wiping the slate clean. Similarly, Turing should not have been pardoned by Royal Prerogative, the conviction should have been quashed.

  2. Welll the trouble with this pardon is that it is kind of an empty gesture and is directed towards people alive today.

    Alan Turing was murdered by the state (not murdered in the sense that an assassin killed him but in that he was driven to suicide.)

    A far more effective way to atone for murdering Turing would be for the government to impose immediate trade sanctions on Uganda; India; Russia; Saudi Arabia etc.

    Alan Turing is dead – pardoning him is nice but meaningless.

  3. James Campbell 24 Dec 2013, 5:52pm

    Whilst I believe that the pardon was correct and will have brought Turing to the notice of millions who did not even recognise his name, I agree that the reasons for the pardon are questionable. This event echoes the injustice of our so-called ‘honours system’ which presents most of the higher awards to ‘famous’ people. I want the slate cleaned for ALL those who suffered because of a now obsolete law. Perhaps in some way, the publicity emanating from the Turing pardon will pave the way for this. We, not God, make the law, we can also unmake it.

  4. There was and is no reason to persecute us because we are who we are. It was another time when Turing lived, that time continued for decades following. That was how it was for gay people. If you came out in the 60s and 70s your chances of losing your home ,job and family were immediately heightened. Your health was compromised and your chances of being with someone in a relationship had many obstacles to dissuade you. Its welcome news that this pardon has been granted because it is the beginning of governments now being able to say they regret their past persecution of humans who were born who we are. Many Commonwealth countries still need our full attention as cruel and inhumane laws are being enforced.

  5. ‘Pardon’ is insufficient. We should be demanding an apology and total exoneration for Mr Turing and every individual who was criminalised for being born homosexual. The law under which they were convicted was a blatant violation of human rights. We, as a country, should hang our heads in shame at the atrocities inflicted on these innocent citizens.

  6. Expat scot 25 Dec 2013, 6:40am

    The UK government, in the person of the prime minister Gordon brown did actually issue such an apology back in 2009:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/gordon-brown/6170112/Gordon-Brown-Im-proud-to-say-sorry-to-a-real-war-hero.html

  7. These types of laws are now regarded as a gross infringement of basic human rights and liberty and an offence against human dignity. A royal pardon does not correct the injustice done to him, or tens of thousands of others still alive today, they deserve a pardon too, and an apology from the State which so disabused them. Never Again

    Doctor Alan M Turing Codebreaker and mathamatical genius, Persecuted by his government for consensual relationship with another man after saving the country from defeat and countless lives during WWII and inventing the programmed computer, died from cynaide poisoning in 1954 at age 41. It is good that his contribution to modern science and computer technology and so, so much more has been finally been recognised. How much more could he have achieved but for the religious inspired bigotry and persecution.
    Maybe it is time to use that empty plinth in Trafalgar square.

  8. Jon C. Stevens 25 Dec 2013, 11:35pm

    You won’t find these relevant facts in any news story…

    The sentence was a choice of either a year in prison, or a year taking the female
    hormone estrogen. (The length of the sentence is universally omitted)

    Also universally ommitted from all news outlets checked…

    Mr. Turing often worked on experiments using cyanide, and had a history of
    carelessness, severe shocks, identifying chemicals by taste, etc…
    Others, including reportedly his own mother, called the death an accident and
    he was reortedly happy and active that very day.

    1. Tommy Flowers 30 Dec 2013, 6:33am

      I don’t think changing history benefits anybody it just makes people look stupid much the same as the black inventors that never were. Biuro Szyfrów “Cipher Bureau” codebreakers Polish long before the mathematician Alan Turing.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biuro_Szyfrów

      Cryptanalysis of the Enigma
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptanalysis_of_the_Enigma

      Tommy Flowers, Flowers was born at 160 Abbot Road, Poplar in London’s East End on 22 December 1905, the son of a bricklayer. Thomas “Tommy” Harold Flowers, MBE (22 December 1905 – 28 October 1998) was a British engineer. During World War II, Flowers designed Colossus, the world’s first programmable electronic computer, to help solve encrypted German messages.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_Flowers

      Died 28 October 1998 (aged 92)
      Mill Hill, London, England
      Nationality British
      Occupation Engineer
      Spouse(s) Eileen Margeret Green
      Children 2

  9. john furniss 15 Jan, 4:36pm

    there Is an emerging story that Alan Turing was set up by the security services.
    Reasons for this are that the Russians broke Enigma at about the same time as uk, evidenced by tank attacks at Rostov and via captured codes from Stalingrad and the Russian counter attacks after Stalingrad. The maths and method of how to break it were passed to the Russians (who made a human ‘bombe,’ with 5000 Russian mathematicians) by senior uk intelligence double agents (well documented) he was therefore a security threat to uk double agents who ran the service (Philby/Maclean) so they went out to get him and kill him, his boyfriend at the time got a conditional discharge and is alleged to have been in the pay of MI5/6 a total set up to shut him up and get rid of their greatest threat of being unmasked…

  10. This is a very thoughtful and well written commentary. Thanks for sharing it. What happened to Turing is just horrendous. You are quite right that, in addition to praising his brilliant mind and invaluable contributions to science and the safety of his country, the “pardon” should include an APOLOGY to him and to every other gay life that was destroyed in quiet desperation during that time. Well said. Thanks for making this point.

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