12,300 sign Turing apology petition

Tatchell urges posthumous pardon

Dawkins and McEwan call for an apology

London – 1 September 2009


“Not only should the government issue an official apology over the homophobic persecution of maths genius and war-time hero Alan Turing, it should give him a posthumous pardon,” said gay and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Mr Tatchell is backing a Downing Street petition, organised by computer scientist John Graham-Cumming:


The petition calls on Prime Minister Gordon Brown to make an official apology for the hounding of Turing because of his homosexuality, which led him to take his own life in 1954 at the age of 41.

The petition has already been signed by over 12,300 people, and the call for an apology is backed by scientist Richard Dawkins and writer Ian McEwan.

“A government apology and pardon are long overdue,” added Mr Tatchell.

“This year marks the 55th anniversary of Turing’s tragic suicide.

“Alan Turing was one of the greatest mathematical geniuses of all time. He is the founder of modern computing and his war-time role in cracking the Nazi military codes helped save Britain from German conquest. The whole country owes him a great debt. Without Turing and other code-crackers, we might be living in the Third Reich. Our freedom is, in part, due Turing. He helped us defeat fascism and win the war.

“Turing’s arrest and conviction in 1952 for a consenting gay relationship, and his subsequent chemical castration to supposedly ‘cure’ his homosexuality, were barbaric, inhuman abuses of a truly outstanding war hero.

“Removing his security clearance and preventing him from continuing his work at GCHQ was an added insult and humiliation, which ultimately drove him to depression and suicide in 1954.

“With Turing’s death, Britain and the world lost one of its finest intellectual minds.

“Turing was one of an estimated 100,000 British gay men who were convicted for consenting, victimless same-sex relations during the twentieth century. Thousands were jailed. These men were criminalised for behaviour that was not a crime between heterosexual men and women.

“The homophobic ‘gross indecency’ law, under which Turing and others were criminalised, was a consensual offence and it only applied to sex between men. It was the same law that was used to prosecute and jail Oscar Wilde in 1895. First legislated in 1885 as part of a Victorian-era crackdown on homosexuality, this law was not finally repealed until 2003,” said Mr Tatchell.

Sign the Alan Turing petition here: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/turing/

For additional information about the life and achievements of Alan Turing see here:




More information:

John Graham-Cumming – [email protected]