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Hounded for being gay

Hounded and convicted for being gay

Image courtesy: Joseph Birr-Pixton from en.wikipedia

A mathematician, cryptanalyst and computer scientist, Dr Alan Turing is widely recognized as the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. However, he was hounded for his homosexuality by the British government despite his invaluable role in the Allied victory in World War II for which he was awarded the Order of the British Empire.

In 1952, Dr Turing was convicted of 'gross indecency' after he acknowledged a sexual relationship with a man. At the time, homosexuality was considered a crime in the UK and he was given a choice between imprisonment and probation, conditional on undergoing chemical castration. He opted for the latter and was left impotent.

He was also barred from continuing with his work for the British intelligence. In 1954 when he was just 41, Dr Turing was found dead of cyanide poisoning. Although officially termed as suicide, his family and close friends held that he was killed. In 1967, 15 years after his death, Britain abolished the law that criminalized homosexuality.

Dr Turing's legacy and tragic death would have gone unnoticed but for a sustained campaign by the scientists' community. Finally, in 2013, a royal pardon was issued, calling him an "exceptional man with a brilliant mind", admitting that the sentence given to him was "unjust and discriminatory".



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