Westhampton, MA – September 11, 2009
Turing brilliantly invented his ‘Turing Bombe’ that crucially helped crack the German Enigma coded messages (sometimes thousands per day) during the war that ultimately helped the Allies win the war. But Turing, recognized today as the founder of modern computing, tragically killed himself in 1954 aged only 41 after being convicted of having a sexual relationship with another man.
The Prime Minister said (in part): “Alan Turing deserves recognition for his contribution to humankind. For those of us born after 1945, into a Europe which is united, democratic and at peace, it is hard to imagine that our continent was once the theatre of mankind’s darkest hour. It is difficult to believe that in living memory, people could become so consumed by hate – by anti-Semitism, by homophobia, by xenophobia and other murderous prejudices – that the gas chambers and crematoria became a piece of the European landscape as surely as the galleries and universities and concert halls which had marked out the European civilisation for hundreds of years.
“It is thanks to men and women who were totally committed to fighting fascism, people like Alan Turing, that the horrors of the Holocaustand of total war are part of Europe’s history and not Europe’s present.
“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.”
This is a worthy comment and much deserved and much belated. But it came only after thousands of petitioners signed a protest plea for the apology, not because the UK felt inwardly compelled by guilt or shame. (photo left: Alan Turing memorial in Sackville Park, London)
Retroactive wisdom is always welcome but it is of little value if it is not used to guide the present and future. And there are positive signs that this is happening: the British government has ordered its embassies to openly advocate for tolerance and acceptance of human rights for everyone, including homosexuals in all countries. In May 2008 the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed its commitment to “engage with foreign governments about the rights of gay. lesbian, bisexual and trans people”. (Read the Report)
The apology is very welcome but as gay activist Nicholas Chinardet has written (in his blog): “let’s not forget, at the risk of seeming ungrateful perhaps, that while the PM may have apologised, Alan Turing is still officially a criminal. He and all the other persecuted homosexuals should be pardoned, not solely apologised to. What are you going to do about that Mr Brown? An apology is not enough.”
Someone has to lead the way to civilized world standards regarding sexual orientation and it’s varieties. Sexual orientation is not an afterthought or decision or ‘preference’ or religious issue. It’s a DNA issue.
Our appreciation goes to England and the few other enlightened governments who advocate equality and acceptance of human sexual varieties.
(…and what about the unfortunate case of Nobel Prize recipient Dr. Daniel Carlton Gajdusek?)