I woke this morning to the news that Alan Turing has received a Royal Pardon.
Never heard of him? Read on to learn about his contribution to the Allied effort in World War II. Despite this key contribution, his sexual orientation resulted in prosecution, public humiliation, private anguish and ultimately his suicide.
Because what you do with your genitals is obviously more important than any assistance you’ve provided in beating the Nazis and ending world war.
Anyway, the government has relented and Turing has his pardon. But I can’t help wondering about how helpful this is.
What the government are essentially saying is that Turing – for all his good works and fame – was a “good gay” and can now be rehabilitated in the public mind. He did good things, so let’s forget his public humiliation, experience of chemical castration and untimely death.
However this leaves the status of many, many thousands of gay men just like Turing unchanged. Their convictions for “gross indecency” still stand, their chemical castrations viewed as a “cure”.
Turing had impact – he made a difference. But so did everyone of the gay men who car before him. Doctors, milkmen, train drivers, teachers, policemen…all in their way contributed positively to society, yet I suspect it’ll be a long time before the government – any government – apologies for how they were treated and how inane moralistic laws contributed to their misery and prosecution.
Let’s remember Alan Turing for what he was – a brilliant mathematician, who happened to be gay. Let’s not forget all of this fellow gays who won’t receive a royal pardon and ensure nothing like this happens again, either in the UK or elsewhere.
Think also of how many contemporary Turings are facing misery and potentially death right now in places like Russia, India and Uganda.