Alan Turing | Gordon Brown | Great Britain | News

British Government Apologizes to Gay Codebreaker Alan Turing

After thousands signed a petition calling for a formal British apology to mathematician Alan Turing. During World War II, Turing, who is known as the father of modern computing, devised the Turing Bombe, a codebreaking device that was used to decipher the Nazi enigma codes, up to 3,000 messages per day. He was also gay, and two years after being convicted of "gross indecency" and sentenced to undergo hormone therapy, he killed himself with a cyanide-laced apple.

 Today, Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologized: Turingstatue

"Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. 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. 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 in conviction. I am proud that those days are gone and that in the past 12 years this Government has done so much to make life fairer and more equal for our LGBT community. This recognition of Alan's status as one of Britain's most famous victims of homophobia is another step towards equality, and long overdue...

...It is thanks to men and women who were totally committed to fighting fascism, people like Alan Turing, that the horrors of the Holocaust and of total war are part of Europe's history and not Europe's present. 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."

Read Brown's full piece in the Telegraph.

Gordon Brown: I'm proud to say sorry to a real war hero [telegraph]

Pictured: a statue of Turing at Britain's Bletchley Park.

An excerpt of a documentary on Turing, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Congrats! Some Wonderful news!

    Posted by: B | Sep 10, 2009 7:38:32 PM

  2. alan turing was a brilliant man who helped save the western world from fascism. but he was driven to suicide by a male hooker and the British govt. of course he deserves an apology.

    Posted by: nic | Sep 10, 2009 7:51:34 PM

  3. I'm glad they finally apologized. It so sad that such a great mind was lost.

    Posted by: Andrew | Sep 10, 2009 7:52:48 PM

  4. When will the U.S. government appologize for keeping gay holocaust victims in prison to serve their entire sentence?

    Posted by: Bill | Sep 10, 2009 8:18:37 PM

  5. It seems like such an over-and-done thing, yet my eyes stung as I read the apology of the prime minister:

    "I am very proud to say: we're sorry. You deserved so much better."

    Posted by: Glenn I | Sep 10, 2009 8:34:48 PM

  6. Bravo! Wonderful to see a government being held accountable and responding in kind. Coming from Australia, where Prime Minister John Howard refused (for 12 years!) to apologise to the systematic removal of mixed race aboriginal children from their natural parents. It was a shameful period in our history, compounded by a small minded man's refusal to apologise decades later. One of Kevin Rudd's first acts as incoming PM was to say sorry to the "Stolen Generations". It was a profoundly moving act.

    Posted by: Lewis Payton | Sep 10, 2009 9:04:16 PM

  7. And here in the USA Obama still kicks gays out of the military...

    Posted by: galore | Sep 10, 2009 9:12:28 PM

  8. A welcome development, though I do wish Brown could have resisted stooping to partisanship in what should have been non-partisan remarks.

    Posted by: Clay | Sep 10, 2009 9:46:16 PM

  9. I don't know him but it's good to hear that the British Government apologized. But what happened to Alan Turing is so sad... :(

    Posted by: Alain | Sep 10, 2009 10:06:31 PM

  10. Breaking the Enigma code was, of course, a vital contribution, and it's so sad that his contributions to computer science (he basically invented it) were cut short. We need more gay heroes and Alan Turing is a good one.

    It's nice to see even the standard homophobes are in the minority over this for once over at Gizmodo and the banhammer is out.

    There's a great book on Turing by David Leavitt... the geekiest parts are challenging but it really opens your eyes and makes you wish it were on some required reading lists. In high schools.

    There's a

    Posted by: NIck | Sep 11, 2009 12:20:41 AM

  11. I hate this apology.

    "sorry for what happened to him." Like he was hit by lightening. Your bloody government killed a global hero for Christ's sake.

    Make him a fucking knight and spend some money some fucking place in his name !!!

    Posted by: rick | Sep 11, 2009 12:57:50 AM

  12. There's a really terrific movie about Alan Turing starring openly gay Derek Jacobi called "Breaking the Code" that is well worth seeking out. What a fascinating man Turing was and he was kind of a hottie too, he ran distance races and was in good shape.

    Posted by: Henry Holland | Sep 11, 2009 4:24:52 AM

  13. @Nick: I agree....Turning seems to have been a great patriot......I'm not quibbling but we need to name our heroes more often; we need to emphasise the inconvenient truth of their contributions to the story of human progress, whether Alexander, Gide, Oscar Wilde, Michaelangelo, Harvev Milk,and all the silent ones......we have quite a list to be proud of.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Sep 11, 2009 9:54:21 AM

  14. Alan Turing should be worshipped like a god, just like Charles Darwin.

    Posted by: Attmay | Sep 11, 2009 12:13:41 PM

  15. Unbelievable; chemical castration or jail. The man is a national hero and they treated him like shit.

    Charles Darwin's theories don't put homosexuals in the best of lights. Social Darwinism was instrumental in the creation of the eugenics movement(s) that reached it's inevitable peak with Nazi Germany and the holocaust. MANY gay men suffered,were even murdered, because of social Darwinism, which has been discredited through our now superior scientific understanding.

    Reminds me of gays who think Che Guevera was cool. He was uber homophobic, being responsible for many murders and brutal treatment of gay men after Castro took power in Cuba.

    Posted by: John in Boston | Sep 13, 2009 1:27:49 PM

  16. @ John in Boston: The term "Social Darwinism" was coined in the late Nineteenth Century to describe the misuse of Charles Darwin's theories, mainly by politicians with little understanding of the actual science involved. I don't see how Darwin himself or his theories on evolution are to blame if they are twisted to serve some terrible agenda.

    As for Che Guevara, I think the people who admire him do so because of his advocacy for the poor and for Latin America. It's a shame he was homophobic, but so were the people who made up the forces he was fighting. Everyone was at the time. George Washington was doubtless homophobic too. It doesn't make him unworthy of our respect.

    Posted by: Karl | Sep 13, 2009 2:27:51 PM

  17. Oops, he's dead

    Posted by: reidh | Jun 28, 2010 8:01:13 PM

  18. Che was ghey

    Posted by: reidh | Jun 28, 2010 8:02:44 PM

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