Alan Turing: A Homosexual Who Committed Suicide
آلن تورینگ: همجنسگرایی که خودکشی کرد
The following article was first written and published 25 years ago on May 17, 1994 in soc.culture.iranian Usenet Newsgroup on the Internet. In those days Iranians wrote on the Internet in English and this is why the English translation has not been available till today January 29, 2019. SG
After I posted my article "Homosexuality and Islam"
(1), I received emails from a few Iranian homosexuals who were afraid to
post on SCI. I suggested to them to post anonymously because I hate Email. But I
think they were even afraid to do that, because there is always that very slight
chance that the anonymous names can be discovered.
I have a hard time to relate to their plight, because I have never been in their shoes. I mean, in the past, I have chosen political or social standings in life that had caused me threats to my life, and I can relate to that kind of fear. But I had chosen those positions and I did not feel like I was threatened because of just being something. But these people have not chosen to be what they are, and being threatened with their life for what one is, is very hard for me to relate to.
It is true that they do not need to act on what they are, to be punished, but I find it very hard to understand how. I mean if I am hungry, I find it hard to resist food. And they do not think they are sick for feeling this hunger, and most of the medical profession agrees with them. I have never experienced such a tough position in my life so I really cannot relate to these people's plight. Only having read on this subject, like many other subjects, I can only relay some of my readings.
I remember the life of Alan Turing, the founder of many things that are nowadays referred to as Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence. Many of you know about Turing Machine (2). You have learned it in your advanced Computer classes, see Douglas Hofstadter's The Mind's I for more details about Turing Machine.
Turing was a homosexual living in England. His adult life was in 30s and 40s. He committed suicide because in England at that time, he could not come out of the closet with his true personality. When I think about such a genius, I wonder, if so many homosexuals in Iran of today are facing the same kind of dilemma.
My request from our Muslim readers is not to convince or be convinced that the execution of people for what they are is fair or not. Although I think that is a good question. But I would like to ask to think about something else. I believe it is more important to be open and look for *creative solutions*. When I noted the difference between Marhoom Ayatollah Borujerdi’s position on this issue and others, our friend BBB, at least gave me the benefit of the doubt and sincerely researched it. I appreciate that and I hope we all do that. Why?
Well if the rules of punishment in Islam were even tougher than what we hear, it would not really matter; if Islam was not the guiding principle of state in Iran. Nobody asks what Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, or Baha'i Faith prescribes for punishment of homosexuals in Iran. Because they do not determine what the Iranian state does. Since Iranian state has chosen to be a religious government, Islamic thinkers need to be more careful to be creative in its implementation of Koranic law, much more than religious thinkers who are not in power. Why?
Well look at any state in the world and see how they change and modify laws *all the time*. Once you have accepted the legitimacy of a state ideology, you need to be able to modify it. Actually many of the people in Europe, during the Middle Ages, who asked for separation of Church and State, were themselves top Christian Theologians and many were high-level pious officials. They proposed the separation of Church and State because they saw that being a state religion at the time of rapid changes in the world's social and economic order, they had to modify the religion so much that after a while they may lose their religion.
In fact, some of the very conservative Iranian Marja have made similar propositions, i.e. separation of religion and state, many times. Some people find it strange that such a demand had come from the most conservative members of the Islamic clergy. People usually expect such a demand from the more radical elements. But as noted, the reason is that these thinkers see that being a state religion, many modifications will need to be made to the rulings of Islam due to the rapid changes in the world, that they are afraid to lose the religion, trying to make it the state religion.
In short, I think it is important to find *creative solutions* for issues like treating the homosexuals in Iran, as long as Islam is the basis of executive, judiciary, and legislative branches of government in Iran. I think reviewing the texts of different Marja’s of Shi’a and also reviewing the ways that they allow changes in these rules is one way of finding a middle ground. Whether I am or you are convinced, if such *creative solutions* are not found, the problems remain!!
Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist republic in Iran,
May 17, 1994
1. Homosexuality and Islam
همجنسگرایی و اسلام
2. Turing and AI
تورینگ و هوش مصنوعی