Petition urges posthumous pardon for Alan Turing

Among a cohort of talented thinkers assembled at Bletchley Park was the mathematician Alan Turing. Based on his experience working during there, Turing later came up with an idea for a stored-program, electronic computer. Turing also was an early thinker in the field of artificial intelligence. However, his life took a tragic turn. A homosexual in an era when homosexuality was against the law, Turing was prosecuted in 1952 and accepted chemical castration as an alternative to a jail sentence. He committed suicide just prior to his 42nd birthday. Years later, Britain Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologized for the "appalling" way Turing had been treated for being gay. Time Magazine in 1999 named Turing as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.

An e-petition is being circulated asking the British government to pardon the legendary computing pioneer Alan Turing who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 for being a homosexual.

The petition comes just shy of the centenary celebration of one of the great geniuses of the 20th century who was driven to suicide at the age of 41. (Turing was born in London on June 23, 1912.)

Turing was imprisoned at a time when homosexuality was illegal in England. He was subsequently forced to undergo chemical castration and committed suicide by cyanide poisoning in 1954. In 2009, a petition convinced the then-U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown to publicly apologize for the government's treatment of Turing. That same year, Time Magazine named Turing as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.

This second e-petition calls Turing's imprisonment "a shame on the UK government and UK history."

Among other things, it states:

"Alan Turing was driven to a terrible despair and early death by the nation he'd done so much to save. This remains a shame on the UK government and UK history. A pardon can go some way to healing this damage. It may act as an apology to many of the other gay men, not as well known as Alan Turing, who were subjected to these laws."