The Turing Campaign

A campaign has been launched in the UK to obtain a posthumous apology for computer pioneer, Alan Turing, for his conviction for homosexuality that ended his career and probably led to his suicide at the age of 41. Turing was one of the most brilliant pioneer computer scientists and a key part of the code-breaking team at Bletchley Park that helped crack secret enemy communications during WWII. He received an OBE for his war work, but was later prosecuted for “gross indecency” simply for having sex with a man.

There is an article about the campaign in the Manchester Evening News. If you are a British citizen you can sign the petition over at the 10 Downing Street web site.

It has been pointed out to me elsewhere that many other people (notably Oscar Wilde) also suffered significantly as a result of the UK’s sexuality laws, and they deserve apologies too. Turing, however, is an excellent poster child for such a campaign and an apology to him will effectively be an acknowledgment by the UK government that it has acted very badly in the past.

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7 Responses to The Turing Campaign

  1. Alevai says:

    I remember reading Leavitt’s book on Turing and just being utterly gobsmacked by his persecution.

    So happy to hear something is being done to make amends, 65 years later or not.

  2. glenda says:

    More horrible still when you know there are still governments mired in the middle ages, or in religious bigotry of the most virulent and inhumane kind, who are still doing this kind of thing – and worse.

  3. Cheryl says:


    All the more reason for the UK to set a good example.

  4. Paul T says:

    On reflection, I can really see the value in highlighting Alan Turing now. Given his work during the war, it’s feasible that even the tabloids might give favourable coverage.

  5. Hal Duncan says:

    I hadn’t known about that, so thanks for highlighting it. Definitely worth a signature.

  6. David S says:

    Alan Turing was prosecuted for breaking the law so no apology should be given from British government.

  7. GlenH says:

    The law was inconsistent with humanist values and caused undue grievous harm to someone who had rendered faithful service to the British Government. To say that he doesn’t deserve an apology is akin to saying that Aung San Suu Kyi should be under house arrest or that protestors in Iran deserve to be in prison.

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