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Aah, he’s just so tender-hearted, Gordon Brown. The British prime minister has issued an apology to Alan Turing for the way he was treated by the authorities after the second world war.
The mathematician is probably best known for his work on breaking the Enigma Code during the war. He gave his name to the Turing Test – examining whether machines can think by looking at whether they can be distinguished from people – which is just a touch ironic, when Turing was himself treated as barely human because of his homosexuality.
In 1952, Turing was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ – in effect, of being gay. He was sentenced to chemical castration through injections of female hormones. Two years later, he ate an apple laced with cyanide.
“He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war. The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely,” oozed Brown in an article for the Daily Telegraph.
Indeed, Brown cares so much, he’s on first-name terms with the guy. “I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for 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.”
The apology follows an internet petition which garnered more than 19,000 signatures and support from scientists including Richard Dawkins.