BY Neal Broverman
September 10 2009 4:15 PM ET
Fifty-seven years after the British government compelled him to undergo a chemical castration, the late gay code-breaker Alan Turing has been granted an apology by U.K. prime minister Gordon Brown.
Turing, a mathematical genius, helped turn the tide of World War II by deciphering German Enigma codes. But after Turing was convicted by a British court of "gross indecency" for having a homosexual relationship, he was forced to choose between prison and chemical castration. He chose the latter, and ended his own life two years later, in 1954.
In a piece in Thursday's Telegraph newspaper, Brown 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. I am proud that those days are gone and that in the past 12 years this Government has done so much to make life fairer and more equal for our LGBT community. This recognition of Alan's status as one of Britain's most famous victims of homophobia is another step towards equality, and long overdue."
Brown's apology comes after more than 30,000 people signed a petition on the prime minister's website urging the government to "recognize the tragic consequences of prejudice that ended this man's life and career."