Current Affairs

Lib Dems call for computing genius to be remembered

Amy Bourke June 7, 2007
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The Liberal Democrats are calling for the House of Commons to remember cryptographer Alan Turing tomorrow, on the 53rd anniversary of his death.

Turing famously invented the Turing machine and cracked the German Enigma code during World War Two, but sadly committed suicide after being convicted of having a sexual relationship with another man.

The Liberal Democrats are tabling an Early Day Motion, asking that the House “notes the vital contribution Turing made to the British War Effort… and regrets that… he received a criminal conviction for having a sexual relationship with another man.”

They will also ask the House to acknowledge “the huge and unnecessary suffering that he and so many other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have had to endure over the years due to legislation.”

Lorely Burt MP said: “The anniversary of the death of Alan Turing is an important reminder both of how far we have come in regard to LGBT liberation and how far we still have to go.

“In the 1950s awful laws made the lives of LGBT people a misery and lead to the suicide of one of this country’s most brilliant thinkers. Although laws have changed, societal pressures still oppress and the LGBT suicide rate remains unacceptably high.

“We now need to focus of the causes of societal oppression, in particular through tackling homophobic bullying in schools.

Turing was awarded an OBE in 1945 for his wartime services to the Foreign Offices.

After he was convicted of engaging in gay sex, he was forced to take oestrogen hormones or go to prison.

The hormones were designed to decrease his libido, but had side effects including enlargement of the breasts.

Once he had been convicted, Turing was prevented from working on cryptology at Government Communications Headquarters.

He killed himself by eating an apple laced with cyanide on 8th June 1954.

However, Turing has received many posthumous awards. The computing world’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize, given each year by the Association for Computing Machinery, has been called the Turing Award since 1996.

The Early Day Motion is part of the Liberal Democrats wider campaign against homophobic bullying in schools.

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