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Friday, 11 September 2009

PTT welcomes PM's apology to Alan Turing

Further to our blog entry earlier today, the Pink Triangle Trust has issued the following news release:

Gay Humanists welcome PM’s apology for Alan Turing

Britain’s only gay humanist charity has welcomed Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s apology for the treatment meted out to the wartime cryptologist and mathematician, Alan Turing.

The Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) called for an apology earlier this month, when its secretary, George Broadhead, said, “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.”

Meanwhile, the academic John Graham-Cumming launched a Downing Street petition calling for an apology, and the number of signatories was soon in the tens of thousands. By 11 September, it was up to 31,000.

The Prime Minister wrote an article in the Daily Telegraph on 10 September, in which he said:

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.

This also formed the basis of his emailed response to those who had signed the petition.

“It’s certainly not before time that this apology has been issued,” said George Broadhead today. “It’s extremely sad that Turing was treated in such a manner back then, resulting in his suicide in 1954, but that it’s taken so long for the British government to issue an apology and to recognise the invaluable work Turing did in altering the possible course of the Second World War is inexcusable.

“At least Gordon Brown has gone some way towards putting that right, and, of course, we welcome his message. It’s particularly apt coming so close to the seventieth anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War.”

Meanwhile, Mike Foxwell, editor of G&LH, the PTT’s magazine, added: “Welcome though as they are, Gordon Brown’s words of regret are just that. The only act that the British state could perform is to give Alan Turing the posthumous knighthood he deserved in life for his service to Britain and the world in helping to ensure the defeat of Nazism.

“How very ironic that a man who helped ensure the demise of Nazism was meted out such fascistic treatment by his own country.”

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 see Pink Triangle’s earlier coverage of this campaign, click here, here and here. To sign the petition, click here.

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