Forgetting the Many: The Royal Pardon of Alan Turing
In 2015 I was interviewed by Rosemarie Reed at Films for Thought’s feature documentary Forgetting the Many. In the wake of mathematician and WWII codebreaker Alan Turing’s posthumous royal pardon for homosexual offences committed in 1952, the film asks when other men will have their convictions for historic offences erased or pardoned.
From Films for Thought:
The 2014 film The Imitation Game tells the story of Alan Turing, the homosexual British mathematician/codebreaker whose WWII solution to the Nazi Enigma encryptions arguably won the war. His country repaid him by convicting him in 1952 of “gross indecency” under Section 11 of the Criminal Amendment Act of 1885 and sentencing him to chemical castration, with painful and disfiguring results; in 1954, he killed himself. In 2009 he received an apology from Prime Minister Gordon Brown and, in 2013, he received a posthumous, if belated, Royal Pardon from Queen Elizabeth II.
But Turing was hardly the only victim of Section 11.The Imitation Game refers briefly to the other 49,000 men who were convicted and imprisoned for the same “crime” and never received even an apology, let alone a pardon. Their convictions stand. As many as 15,000 of them are still alive, still on the margins of society, their lives destroyed because their illegal sexuality brought them to public toilets, bars, and back alleys to find