The UK gay Humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) has warmly welcomed the news that the famous mathematician and second world war code breaker Alan Turing is to be celebrated on a special stamp as an online petition calls for a posthumous pardon to quash his conviction for gross indecency.
Turing who is also recognised as the father of the computer, is one of 10 prominent people chosen for the Royal Mail’s “Britons of Distinction” stamps to be launched in February 2012, which includes the allied war heroine Odette Hallowes of the Special Operations Executive and composer Frederick Delius.
Turing played a key role in the team that cracked the German Enigma Code at Bletchley Park during World War II and he went on to help create the world’s first computer. This year marks the centenary of his birth.
He was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, when homosexual acts were illegal in the UK, and sentenced to chemical castration. He killed himself two years later by taking cyanide. The e-petition says his treatment and death “remains a shame on the UK government and UK history”.
Welcoming this news of the special stamp, the PTT’s Secretary George Broadhead said: “This is richly deserved as of course is the call for a posthumous pardon which we fully support. It is well known that Turing was gay, but perhaps not so well known that he was a staunch atheist. There are many other famous gay atheists past and present — Christopher Marlowe, Maynard Keynes, Stephen Fry and and Michael Cashman among them — but Turing is probably the most notable since his breaking of the Enigma Code went such a long way in saving the UK from defeat in the last war. Despite this, the treatment meted out to him by the authorities was despicable and almost certainly led to his suicide. To mark the 100th anniversary of Turing’s birth, the Turing Centenary Advisory Committee (TCAC) is coordinating the Alan Turing Year, a year-long programme of events around the world honouring Turing’s life and achievements. LGBT Humanists will certainly be participating in this programme to honour a man who, to them, is great hero. A number of articles about Turing were published in Gay & Lesbian Humanist magazine and can be read at http:// www.pinktriangle.org.uk/glh/turing.html.”