Prime Minister Gordon Brown has apologised for Britain's treatment of mathematician Alan Turing, who cracked the Enigma code during World War II (code-breaking machine pictured). Turing committed suicide after he was convicted as a homosexual.
REUTERS - Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologised on Friday for the treatment of World War Two code-breaker Alan Turing who committed suicide after being convicted and chemically castrated for being a homosexual.
Mathematician Turing led a team at Bletchley Park country House north of London which cracked the Nazis’ Enigma code, which the Germans had regarded as unbreakable, a move credited with helping to shorten the war and save countless lives.
However, five years after the war he was convicted of gross indecency under laws which banned homosexuality and sentenced to chemical castration involving a series of injections of female hormones.
The conviction meant Turing, who was also a pioneer of computing, was also stripped of his security clearance and was unable to continue his work. In 1954 he killed himself at the age of 41.
Following a petition signed by more than 30,000 people on the Downing Street website, calling for an apology, Brown issued a statement expressing the government’s sorrow for Turing’s “appalling” treatment.
“It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of World War Two could well have been very different,” Brown said.
“The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely.”
“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,” he said.
“Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws were treated terribly.”
Date created : 2009-09-11