Alan Turing

A campaign to force the British government to issue an official apology for its homophobic persecution of the late gay computer genius and World War II hero Alan Turing is gaining strength.

Turing (1912 – 1954) has been described as the greatest computer scientist ever born in Britain and is considered by many to be the father of modern computing. He also played a key role in breaking the Nazi Enigma code during the war.

Turing was outed as gay and was prosecuted in 1952 under the same law under which Oscar Wilde had been convicted more than fifty years earlier. He was given the choice of imprisonment or of chemical castration.

He chose the latter and underwent forced oestrogen hormone injection treatment for a year. He committed suicide from cyanide poisoning at the age of 41.This year marks the 55th anniversary of Turing’s suicide.

At the time of publishing, an online petition on the official website of the Prime Minister’s office calling for the Prime Minister to “apologise for the prosecution of Alan Turing that led to his untimely death” had garnered over 23,000 signatures.

“The whole country owes him a great debt. Without Turing and other code-crackers, we might be living in the Third Reich. Our freedom is, in part, due Turing. He helped us defeat fascism and win the war,” said gay rights activist Peter Tatchell.

“Turing’s arrest and conviction in 1952 for a consenting gay relationship, and his subsequent chemical castration to supposedly ‘cure’ his homosexuality, were barbaric, inhuman abuses of a truly outstanding war hero. Turing was one of an estimated 100,000 British gay men who were convicted for consenting, victimless same-sex relations during the twentieth century. Thousands were jailed,” noted Tatchell.

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