Friday, September 11, 2009

Brown Apologises After Turing Petition

Last night the Prime Minister responded to the 30,805 signatures (as of yesterday) on a Downing Street petition by giving an unequivocal apology to World War II codebreaker Alan Turing.

In 1952 the man who had played an important part in winning the war by cracking the German Enigma machines was convicted for gross indecency for having sexual relations with another man. He was given chemical castration as a 'treatment', which last night Gordon Brown called "horrifying" and "utterly unfair", and had his security privileges withdrawn causing him to lose his job at CGHQ. In 1954, a destroyed man, he killed himself aged just 41.

Writing on the Downing Street website the PM says:

"Without [Turing's] outstanding contribution, the history of world war two could well have been very different. .

"The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely. In 1952, he was convicted of gross indecency – in effect, tried for being gay.

"His sentence – and he was faced with the miserable choice of this or prison – was chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones."

Hitler had believed that homosexuality was "degenerate behavior" and Nazi doctors had carried out experiments on gays trying to find a cure so as it would not affect future generations of the 'master race'. Part of the Holocaust officially recognised by the European Parliament in 2005 was the prosecution of the homosexual community in Germany. Yet sadly Turing's contribution to the freedoms of many across Europe weren't there at the time to help him. However, now 55 years later he has received a pardon he so rightly deserves.

Acknowledging the strength of support for this petition the Prime Minister also wrote:

"Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can't put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him.

"Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws were treated terribly. Over the years millions more lived in fear of conviction.

"This recognition of Alan's status as one of Britain's most famous victims of homophobia is another step towards equality and long overdue."

"But even more than that, Alan deserves recognition for his contribution to humankind … It is thanks to men and women who were totally committed to fighting fascism, people like Alan Turing, that the horrors of the Holocaust and of total war are part of Europe's history and not Europe's present.

"So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan's work I am very proud to say: we're sorry, you deserved so much better."


Jess The Dog said...

I agree - the treatment of Turing was barbaric.

However, I just wish Brown would apologise for something on his government's watch.

Will we be seeing a future government apologising for the hounding of Dr Kelly in a decade or two, also welcome but ignoring their own failings?

Stephen Glenn said...

Kelly is a very good case in point of an apology that should be made by this Government before they leave office.

He like Turing was a good man doing his governemnt job. He was hung out to dry by this government who were looking for someone to pin their error on. He took a lot of flak that should have been directed elsewhere, but he was the public face of that. Sadly while the senior politicians may have been able to sleep with their actions David Kelly clearly wasn't.


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