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Codebreaker Alan Turing’s gay sex conviction documents go on display

Nick Duffy September 23, 2016
Computer scientist Alan Turing

Alan Turing, the grandfather of modern computing

Documents from the trial of gay war hero Alan Turing have gone on display in public for the first time.

Turing, often hailed as the grandfather of modern computing, was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ in 1952 after having sex with a man, and was chemically castrated, barred from working for GCHQ, and is believed to have been driven to suicide.

The mathematical genius previously worked at Bletchley Park to crack the German Enigma codes – which is widely believed to have meant an earlier end to World War II.

This week, the original court documents from the ‘gross indecency’ case that led to Turing’s downfall have been made available for public viewing.

Cheshire Pride has collaborated with historians to make the documents available in Chester Town Hall – close to where the trial took place.

The official court documents provided by Cheshire County Archives list the charges, pleas and sentences passed on Turing during his trial.

A book of commemoration next to the display allows the public to share their thoughts and feelings about the issues faced by Turing and the LGBT community, both in the past and today.

The files are being displayed ahead of this year’s Chester Pride festival, which starts on October 1, and will remain on display until October 9.

Helen Pickin-Jones, Chair of Chester Pride, said: “These are court files of international significance.

“Alan Turing is hailed as the pioneer of computer science, but the sad sequence of events that ultimately led to his suicide in 1954 begin right here in these documents.

“Just a few simple lines of text reveal the appalling treatment of one of our national heroes – a man who happened to be gay, but a man who helped save millions of lives during World War Two and supported the Allied effort to defeat Nazi Germany.

“”By putting these files on public display for the very first time ahead of this year’s Chester Pride festival, we hope to help recognise Alan Turing’s contribution and legacy, to champion and raise awareness of the LGBT community, and to celebrate the diversity of our wonderful city.”

Turing was granted a rare posthumous Royal Pardon by the Queen in 2013 after a public campaign.

The government also brought about reform to allow others to get historic gay sex convictions expunged – with further changes expected to allow more posthumous pardons.

More: Alan Turing, chemical castration, Codebreaker, computing, cure, Gay, genius, hero, Homosexuality, war

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