‘The Imitation Game’ may pardon UK gays


The Imitation Game may have been virtually shut out of this year’s Oscars, winning only Best Adapted Screenplay.

But for many, the mere existence of The Imitation Game was far more important than any awards it might receive.

It was a recognition that gay people can not only contribute to society, but in the case of Alan Turing, almost singlehandedly saved 14 million British lives and shortened World War II for the British by at least two years.

Turing, it will be recalled, was the mathematician who invented a machine that cracked the Nazi regime’s “unbreakable” coding device, Enigma, reports XBiz.

But as the movie (and book which preceded it) points out, despite Turing’s brilliance, the fact that he was homosexual led him to be targeted by police, banned from further government work, arrested and chemically castrated to dampen his “urges” — and he eventually committed suicide in 1954 by drinking cyanide.

A bit belatedly, the British government issued an apology for its treatment of Turing in 2009, and Turing himself was eventually pardoned by Queen Elizabeth II under what’s called the “Royal Prerogative of Mercy” — but what about the tens of thousands of other gay men (and women) who were arrested and convicted of “gross indecency” (as gay sex was criminalised in those days)?

Rachel Barnes, Nevile Hunt and Thomas Barnes delivered their petition to the Prime Minister's office at No. 10 Downing Street

‘The Imitation Game’ sparks movement to pardon UK gays

Barnes, together with Nevile Hunt, Turing’s great nephew, and Thomas Barnes, his great-great nephew (pictured), delivered their petition to the Prime Minister’s office at No. 10 Downing Street.

The law was taken off the books in 2003, and hadn’t been used for 36 years before that, but Turing’s great-niece, Rachel Barnes, and her extended family estimate that more than 49,000 other Brits suffered the same discrimination and prosecution as Turing did — and they’ve collected over 600,000 names on a petition to urge the government to pardon those victims as well.

“Alan’s treatment by the government was absolutely horrific,” Barnes wrote in an article published yesterday on the Independent.co.uk website.

“Having chosen the latter, both his mental and physical health deteriorated. He ended up with severe depression and was unable to continue his work. In the end, he committed suicide, at the age of 41.

“But Alan’s legacy still hasn’t been properly fulfilled,” she continued. “He wasn’t the only gay man to receive such shocking treatment by the government. An estimated 49,000 other men were also charged with gross indecency, and have never been pardoned by the government. And 15,000 of these men are still alive. If the Government believes in justice, then they must receive the same pardon as Alan within their lifetimes. It would make such a huge difference to them and their families.”

The organization YouGov polled Britains on the subject and found that two out of three voters favored pardoning those who had been convicted of “gross indecency.”

However, 21 percent — mostly conservatives and UKIP voters — opposed the move.

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