Fury Mounts Over Treatment of Gay WWII Codebreaker

Petition seeks posthumous apology for computing genius Alan Turing
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2009 6:54 AM CDT
One of the volunteers who rebuilt a replica of the Turing Bombe machine that played a crucial part in cracking the Nazi Enigma Code, stands by the machine at Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes, England.   (AP Photo/Akira Suemori)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – A campaign to win a pardon and apology for gay World War II codebreaking genius Alan Turing is gathering steam, CNN reports. Turing—considered by many to be the father of modern computing—made a vital contribution to the Allied effort with his invention of a machine to crack German codes, but was prosecuted in his native Britain in 1952 for having a homosexual relationship. He agreed to undergo chemical castration to avoid prison time and committed suicide two years later.

A petition signed by tens of thousands of people calls for the British government to "recognize the tragic consequences of prejudice that ended this man's life and career." There is "no doubt in my mind hat if Turing had lived his international impact would have been great and he likely would have received a knighthood," said the computer scientist who launched the campaign.