Apology for Alan Turing

In response to an online poll, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has released a statement acknowledging the hideous way Alan Turing was treated for being gay. It’s too late for Alan, but its’ a worthy sentiment (and goes to show that it doesn’t always take 10 years and a change of government just to say sorry).

The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely. In 1952, he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ – in effect, tried for being gay. His sentence – and he was faced with the miserable choice of this or prison – was chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones. He took his own life just two years later.

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 of conviction.

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.

Advertisements

About this entry