British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has officially apologised for the “appalling” way that the late Second World War code-breaker, Alan Turing, was treated for being gay.
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.
In 1952 he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ for being gay and sentenced to chemical castration. With his career ruined, he committed suicide two years later.
Brown’s statement came in response to a petition, which received over 30,000 signatures, posted 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.
“It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of World War Two could well have been very different. [Turing] truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war,” said Brown on the website.
“While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can’t put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him,” added the Prime Minister. “Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws were treated terribly. Over the years millions more lived in fear of conviction.”
Brown concluded by saying, “So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better.”