Currently at the committee stage in the House of Lords is the motion to issue a posthumous pardon to Alan Turing. The government’s official explanation in 2012 for refusing to pardon Turing’s conviction for “gross indecency” was that, at the time when it was imposed, homosexuality was a criminal offence in this country – so, were it to be rescinded, then the same acknowledgement would need to be made of the criminal innocence of all others who had been convicted of having being party to “forbidden love”. Quite.
To grant such a specific pardon to Turing alone would be but a further iniquity when, clearly, the very existence of that so-called ‘crime’ is a stain upon our history which needs to be acknowledged and expunged. The true test of a civilisation’s intelligence is its ability to learn from its mistakes, so consider this the ‘Turing Testament’: our government ought to issue a statement that having ever seen homosexuality as aught but an expression of love, pure and simple, is and ever was wrong; simultaneously overturning all other similar convictions. An equal society must be equal for each and every one of its citizens and it is our duty to do whatever we can to put right the ignorant injustices of the past. An apology is both demanded and long overdue.
Alan Turing was a hero who expedited the ending of the Second World War, and he deserves to be remembered for that alone; but he was subsequently deprived of the right to live his own life free as the price for his love, and we would do well to remember the vilification and sacrifice that he suffered, that such fundamental crimes against our fellow humans never again be repeated. Meanwhile, if the establishment really wants to try to make good to his memory then perhaps a posthumous knighthood might be in order.