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Tuesday, 31 December 2013 12:50

Alan Turing Pardon Welcomed

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© Joseph Birr-Pixton © Joseph Birr-Pixton

The UK gay humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) has warmly welcomed the posthumous royal pardon granted to Alan Turing, the gay atheist code-breaking genius and father of the modern computer, who committed suicide in 1954 after being punished for homosexuality by being chemically castrated.

In 2009 thousands of people added their names 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.

Notable among the petition’s signatories was the well-known atheist and Humanist Professor Richard Dawkins who said that this would “send a signal to the world which needs to be sent”, and that Turing might 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 presented a 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 fêted 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.

PTT secretary George Broadhead commented: “It was great to have such a prominent atheist and Humanist as Richard Dawkins supporting the campaign for Turing to be pardoned and it is significant that he identified religious-influenced laws as being to blame for Turing’s suicide.

“As a gay atheist Alan Turing is a Humanist hero and a pardon is long overdue. However, I agree with other LGBT activists that it’s wrong that the many other men convicted of exactly the same offence are not even being given an apology, let alone a pardon.”

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