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Codebreaker Alan Turing receives posthumous pardon for sex conviction

Dec. 23, 2013 at 8:00 PM

LONDON, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- British mathematician Alan Turing, whose work on German codes shortened the second world war, has been pardoned for his 1952 gross indecency conviction.

Turing, who was gay at a time when homosexuality was still a crime in Britain, was forced to undergo chemical castration after being convicted, later committing suicide in 1954 at the age of 41.

Almost 60 years after his suicide from cyanide poisoning, Turing has been officially pardoned by Queen Elizabeth II under a little-known act known as the Royal Prerogative of Mercy, the Independent reported Monday.

Turing's work helped the Allies read German naval messages enciphered with the Enigma machine. He later authored some papers on mathematical principles that led him to be considered by many the father of modern computing.

The pardon for Turing comes after a campaign by scientists including Stephen Hawking and a petition to the British government signed by more 37,000 people.

"His later life was overshadowed by his conviction for homosexual activity, a sentence we would now consider unjust and discriminatory and which has now been repealed," Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said. "A pardon from the queen is a fitting tribute to an exceptional man."

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