Friday, September 11, 2009

This Queer Little Planet: British PM Gordon Brown Apologizes for Treatment of Gay WW II Code Breaker

The history of World War II would be very different if not for the efforts of gay mathematician Alan Turing, who invented the Turing Machine, which cracked Nazi Germany's Enigma Code.

For his efforts, Turing was convicted in 1952 of "gross indecency" for having sex with another man. His was given a choice of sentence: life in prison or chemical castration to eliminate his homosexual desires. Turing chose castration. In 1954 Turing took his own life.

Today, British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown officially apologized for the British government's treatment of Alan Turing. The apology comes as a result of a petition campaign lead by out British actor Stephen Fry. Best known in the U.S. for his role as Oscar Wilde in the film "Wilde" and for his role on the Fox TV show "Bones", Fry's twitter campaign resulted in 30,805 signatures, which PM Brown acknowledged in his speech today:

(From Pink News)
"Turing was a quite brilliant mathematician, most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes. It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of World War Two could well have been very different. He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war. 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.

"I am proud that those days are gone and that in the last 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.

... [O]n 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."
The full text of Gordon Brown's speech appear at Pink News.
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