Turing precedent

The Queen’s announcement of a posthumous pardon for mathematician, Alan Turing, following a major campaign, is to be greatly welcomed (your report, 24 December).

However, and what is of some concern, is that the British state, through this pardon, seems prepared to forgive historical homosexual acts providing they were performed by a national hero or academic giant. This is the opposite of the correct message.

Turing should be forgiven not because he was a modern legend, but because he did absolutely nothing wrong.

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It was wrong when it was used against an estimated 75,000 other men, whether they were famous scientists or office clerks. Each of those men was just as unfairly persecuted, and many suffered similarly awful fates.

To single out Turing is to say that these men are less deserving of justice because they were somehow less exceptional. That cannot be right.

It is shocking to realise that there are still people alive today who were unjustly criminalised in their youth and who have carried the stain of a criminal record, as a sex offender, through almost their entire adult lives.

In 2012 the Protection of Freedoms Act was passed, which allows those who were convicted of homosexuality offences to apply to have their entire criminal records removed if the facts of the case would no longer count as a crime.

There is no reason why this provision could not be extended to cover all those convicted, whether living or dead, without the requirement for a personal application – to be called Turing’s Law perhaps. Now that really would be a fitting tribute to a national hero.

Alex Orr

Leamington Terrace

Edinburgh