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Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Alan Turing campaign

Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist, author and prominent atheist, has thrown his support behind a campaign to win an official apology for Alan Turing. The Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) supports this campaign and welcomes Dawkins’s decision. Accordingly, in my capacity as secretary of the PTT, I’ve issued a press release (below).

Gay Humanists welcome support for Alan Turing campaign

The gay Humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) has warmly welcomed the decision of Richard Dawkins to back the campaign to win an official apology for Alan Turing, the code-breaking genius and father of the modern computer who committed suicide in 1954 after being prosecuted for being homosexual.

More than 2,500 people have now added their name to the on-line petition calling for the Government to recognise the “consequences of prejudice” that ended the life of the scientist, aged just 41.

Professor Dawkins said that an apology would “send a signal to the world which needs to be sent”, and that Turing would still be alive today if it were not for the repressive, religion-influenced laws which drove him to despair.

The author of The God Delusion, who is due to present a forthcoming television programme for Channel 4 on Turing, said the impact of the mathematician’s war work could not be overstated. “Turing arguably made a greater contribution to defeating the Nazis than Eisenhower or Churchill. Thanks to Turing and his ‘Ultra’ colleagues at Bletchley Park, Allied generals in the field were consistently, over long periods of the war, privy to detailed German plans before the German generals had time to implement them.

“After the war, when Turing’s role was no longer top-secret, he should have been knighted and fĂȘted as a saviour of his nation. Instead, this gentle, stammering, eccentric genius was destroyed, for a ‘crime’, committed in private, which harmed nobody,” he said. Professor Dawkins also called for a permanent financial endowment to support Bletchley Park, where Turing helped break the Nazi Enigma code.

The PTT secretary George Broadhead commented: “It is great to have such a prominent atheist and humanist as Richard Dawkins add his weight to the campaign. As a gay atheist himself, Alan Turing is a humanist hero and an apology for the appalling way he was treated for being gay is long overdue.”

Alan Turing took his own life in 1954. To mark the fiftieth anniversary of his death, on Monday, 7 June 2004, a commemorative blue plaque was unveiled by the British mathematician and politician Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw, during a ceremony at the house in Wilmslow where he had lived during the last four years of his life.

Also to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Turing’s untimely death, the Summer 2004 issue of Gay & Lesbian Humanist carried a special three-article feature. Turing – mathematician, codebreaker, engineer, philosopher, and freethinker par excellence – is one of Britain’s most celebrated gay atheists.

Alan Turing campaign
The campaign was launched by John Graham-Cumming, a leading British computer expert and author of The Geek Atlas.

To sign the petition, click here.

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