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Alan Turing unveiled as the face of the new £50 note

Lily Wakefield July 15, 2019

(Bank of England)

Gay Second World War codebreaker Alan Turing will be the face of the new £50 note, the Bank of England announced today (July 15).

Turing beat others on the Bank of England’s shortlist including Margaret Thatcher, Stephen Hawking and Ada Lovelace.

He worked to crack the German Enigma codes, and is credited by many for playing a large part in ending the Second World War.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney chose Mr Turing from a shortlist of 12 after more than 227,000 suggestions of famous British scientists were made by the public.

“Alan Turing was an outstanding mathematician whose work has had an enormous impact on how we live today,” Mr Carney said.

BBC Icons: World War Two codebreaker Alan Turing
(Creative Commons)

“As the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, as well as war hero, Alan Turing’s contributions were far-ranging and path-breaking. Turing is a giant on whose shoulders so many now stand.”

Turing was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ in 1952 after having sex with a man, and was chemically castrated, barred from working for the Government Communications Headquarters

He was eventually driven to suicide in 1954 at the age of 41, two years after he was chemically castrated.

Diversity and inclusion specialist and owner of This Is Us Conference Meena Chander told PinkNews: “Selecting Alan Turing as the new face of the £50 banknote is a monumental and strong message for the LGBTQ community.

“The LGBTQ community still faces many challenges, both in the UK and around the world and selecting someone who was castrated for being gay, and then later pardoned could be seen as a sign of hope and validation for many.

“By selecting Turing, the Bank of England, one of the largest and most prominent organisations in the world is making a stance for equality and inclusion.

“Turing was chosen by choice and let’s not dismiss the fact he has been added to the most prominent bank note.

“This choice is proving how far the community has come, and what can happen when the community keeps moving forward.

“This decision will be life changing, and saving for many, who will now feel represented, visible and empowered.”

The Queen gave Alan Turing a posthumous pardon

In 2013, Queen Elizabeth gave Turing a posthumous pardon, and this would later be extended to all men with historical gay sex convictions.

Turing was also named the greatest icon of the 20th century this year by a public vote for the BBC Two Icons series.

TV presenter Chris Packham, speaking about Turing on the show, said: “All he got for all of his toil and all of our trouble was a poisoned apple.

“A genius, a saviour, but he was also autistic and gay, so we betrayed him and drove him to suicide.”

After a campaign led by Richard Dawkins, Stephen Fry and Peter Tatchell and supported by PinkNews.co.uk, in 2009 the then prime minister Gordon Brown issued an apology for Turing’s treatment on behalf of the British government.

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