Alan Turing in a chair

On 21st May this year this website published an article about Alan Turing, the mathematical genius and code breaker who helped shorten the Second World War by unravelling the German’s Enigma Code. Despite his inspired, patriotic work, in 1952 Turing was charged with gross indecency as a homosexual and underwent “chemical castration” – the injection of the oestrogen hormone - for his so called ‘crimes’. He also lost his security clearance, meaning he could no longer work for GCHQ, the post-war successor to Bletchley Park.

Readers of this article will be pleased to learn that on Friday 11th September 2009 the Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued an unequivocal apology to Alan Turing, describing his treatment at the hands of the justice system as “inhumane”, “horrifying” and “utterly unfair”.

“Without his outstanding contribution the history of world war two could well have been very different”, he said.

This belated apology will be welcomed by all those gay men and women who have suffered as a result of homophobic laws and homophobic attitudes. It will make no difference however to Alan Turning. On the morning of 8 June 1954, dishonoured and defiled, he committed suicide by eating an apple laced with cyanide, He was 41 years old.

– from Martyn Day