If you know about computers, you’ll know Alan Turing was a great man. Without his pioneering theoretical work in the 1930s computing would not have developed as did; his work on code-breaking computers during the war helped win it, and he made a considerable contribution to the National Physical Laboratory once the war ended. The man was a genius, and we owe him a lot.
Unfortunately for him, the great man was queer and this got him into trouble with the law following an incident in 1952, after which he was hounded until his death in 1954.
He was awarded an OBE in 1945 in recognition of is work during the war, but there is now a campaign afoot award him a posthumous knighthood and apologise for his treatment at a time when homosexual acts were still illegal. Although it’s regrettable that society treated him, and others, so badly, it was illegal at the time. Not liking a law is no excuse for ignoring it.
John Graham-Cumming has started a petition to get something done about his treatment. Unfortunately it specifically calls for an apology over the prosecution rather than the climate that lead to it. However, it’s still a good cause and the support from the likes of Peter Tatchell isn’t enough to put me off. Unlike the campaigners today, Alan Turing’s world was discrete and should have been no one’s business but his own.