It is now 60 years since Alan Turing - war hero and intellectual father of the theory of computing - was convicted on the charge of "gross indecency", which in 1950s terms simply meant that his sexual orientation was other than what was thought permissible by society at large at the time. As 2012 also marks the centenary of Alan Turing's birth, it seemed a particularly apposite time to make a request for his posthumous pardon, a request the Conservative justice minister has now rejected.
Tragic as it is that a man who had done so much for his country and humanity at large should have been hounded to an early death for no reason other than popular prejudice, what is even more disgusting is that such a small token gesture as a pardon should be refused by the British government, and on such flimsy grounds as a fear of "precedent"; to say that Alan Turing is undeserving of a posthumous pardon because what he did was against the law at the time of his conviction is essentially to argue that any laws made by Parliament are by definition just, a position which is quite clearly nonsensical. Is the intention really to assert that Turing, and the many others in his position, ought to have condemned themselves to life-long monastic isolation simply to satisfy ridiculous laws?
If one were of a cynical turn of mind, one might suppose that the real reason for refusing a pardon isn't because of any worries about "precedent", but because Lord McNally is well aware that a significant proportion of the Conservative Party's membership still consists of the curtain-twitching, Daily Mail reading types for whom gays are a key constituency in their array of personal demons - alongside blacks, muslims, single mothers, welfare recipients, asylum seekers, feminists, etc.