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Britain pardons World War II code-breaker castrated for homosexuality

British World War II code-breaker Alan Turing, who was convicted in 1952 for homosexual activities, was officially pardoned on Tuesday by Queen Elizabeth.
By JC Finley   |   Aug. 19, 2014 at 2:44 PM   |   Comments

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LONDON, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Queen Elizabeth has officially pardoned Alan Turing, the renowned World War II British code-breaker who was castrated in 1952 for his homosexuality and later committed suicide at the age of 41.

Turing was a brilliant logician who developed an electromechanical device called the Bombe, a code-breaking machine to decipher Nazi Enigma codes during WWII.

Although his war time work contributed greatly to Allied success, he was convicted of homosexuality in 1952. He chose to be chemically castrated in lieu of prison, and killed himself two years later at the age of 41 by eating an apple laced with cyanide.

"A pardon from the Queen is a fitting tribute to an exceptional man," British Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said in a statement Tuesday.

"Dr. Turing deserves to be remembered and recognized for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science."


Turing wrote a 1937 paper about a hypothetical device to compute problems. The device became known as the Turing machine, and Turing has been called the "father of modern computing." The A.M. Turing Award, posthumously named after Turing, is sometimes referred to as the "Nobel Prize of Computing."

British Prime Minister David Cameron hailed Turing as "a remarkable man who played a key role in saving this country in World War II by cracking the German enigma code."

The pardon went into effect Tuesday.

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