Online petition to secure the pardon of Manchester mathematician Alan Turing splits opinion

By James McLaughlin

An online petition to secure the pardoning of war time hero and mathematician Alan Turing has split opinion across Manchester.

A statue of the mathematician and codebreaker has occupied Sackville Street in Manchester for 10 years.

Now campaigners want to see him officially pardoned and have his conviction for gross indecency quashed.

Manchester Pride Deputy Festival Director, Darren Adams said: “Alan Turing was a fantastic man and an asset to the United Kingdom who was clearly subjected to mistreatment for his sexuality.

“This petition not only recognises this, but also reiterates the passion that our LGBT community has in supporting one another and trying to achieve equality.”

Following his crucial breakthroughs in cracking the German Enigma code during World War II, Turing worked in the mathematics department of the University of Manchester.

During his time in Manchester, he made a number of advancements in computer programming, many of which are still used today.

His life ended in tragedy however, as he was ordered to undergo chemical castration for admitting charges of homosexuality in 1952 culminating in his suicide two years later.

The move follows a previous petition which resulted in an official apology in 2009 from then Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

However, organiser of the original campaign, John Graham-Cumming has condemned the recent petition.

Mr Graham-Cumming has said: “A pardon for simply Turing would be unjust to other gay men who suffered under the law.“

“There are men alive today living in Britain with a criminal record because of offences committed during the time the law was in force,” Mr Graham-Cumming added.

MEMORIAL: A statue of Alan Turing was unveiled in Sackville Park in 2001

Actor and writer Stephen Fry commented on Mr Graham-Cumming’s blog and said: “Turing needs no pardon. He did no wrong other than break a wicked law.”

Mr Fry added: “It is the British parliament, the Labouchère Amendment and other sexual laws as well as judicial and police practices that should be begging for pardon.”

Mr Graham-Cumming’s petition prompted amendments to legislation which would clear existing convictions and are currently going through the process to be passed as law.

When Mancunian Matters took to the streets opinion suggested that although the move was a positive step, it was long overdue.

Bar Supervisor, Nathan Ward, 23 said: “Times have changed. We can’t blame the government of today for his persecution but I think a pardon is long overdue.”

If you wish to sign the petition, please visit

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