Google has celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Alan Turing, the gay mathematical genius and codebreaker who not only was the effective inventor of the computer but also a key driver behind the victory over the Nazis.
Turing, who helped break the Enigma codes during the War, contributing to the Allied victory, was convicted under Britain’s indecency laws in 1952 for having a relationship with another man. He underwent chemical castration by the injection of female hormones instead of a prison sentence. An inquest found that he took his own life two years later aged 41.
The search engine has celebrated what would have been his 100th birthday with an interactive representation of the Turing machine, an early computer that manipulated symbols on a strip of tape according to a table of rules. It was used to crack the encryption of the Nazi Enigma codes and allowed the Allied forces to track German military and naval units and destroy them.
In 2009, after a campaign led by Richard Dawkins, Stephen Fry, Peter Tatchell and supported by PinkNews.co.uk, 30,805 people demanded that the then prime minister Gordon Brown issue an apology for Turing’s treatment on behalf of the British government. Mr Brown agreed to do so.
A recent campaign to grant Turing a pardon was rejected by the Government as Turing was “properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence”, Justice Minister Lord McNally said, though it “now seems both cruel and absurd”.
He added that the “law at the time required a prosecution and, as such, long-standing policy has been to accept that such convictions took place and, rather than trying to alter the historical context and to put right what cannot be put right, ensure instead that we never again return to those times.”
If Turing was still alive today, under the Protections of Freedoms Act 2012, Turing’s conviction for homosexuality would have been erased from his criminal record.
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