Dear Britain.

We don't need a pardon.

We need an apology.

And financial compensations
whenever applicable.

A portrait of Oscar Wilde at Reading prison,
where he was jailed from 1895-97 for 'gross indecency'

Alan Turing (front) at Bosham in August 1939

In 1952 Turing pled guilty to a charge of public indecency, admitting he was in a homosexual
relationship with Arnold Murray. Offered the choice between prison and libido-reducing
injections, he opted for the latter. The chemical castration rendered him impotent, and
he is believed to have killed himself in 1954 by eating an apple laced with cyanide.

For authoritative information on Alan Turing, I strongly recommend reading Andrew Hodges'
remarkable biography Alan Turing: The Enigma. Unless you have received some
serious mathematical training (the author was Tutor in Mathematics at Wadham College,
Oxford University) you will need to skip some very obtuse paragraphs to access the core
of the book, namely the narration of a life made  miserable and unendurable at times,
and finally cut short by institutionalized prejudice and bigotry. Hodges' monumental work is a new 
kind of biography, with mathematics, science, computing, war history, philosophy, fundamental
physics and gay liberation woven in a single personal narrative.


Razz said...

Formal apologies and financial compensations... Having come from a former British island colony myself, I realize that they must fear the repercussions of these two concepts in this day and age, in so many ways than one.

another country said...

The Germans, for once, have been pretty remarkable in this matter, and generous funds have been allocated to paying out financial compensations. Now it should be noted that same-sex marriage is STILL illegal in Germany...

The same applies to Australia, where the fate of same-sex marriage depends of the outcome of a referendum Australian authorities keep postponing for obscure reasons which have a smack of homophobia.

And I'm not even mentioning Britain's former East-African colonies (Uganda, Kenya and the like) where stringent laws against homosexuals (including the death penalty in Uganda) were fast-tracked by legislative bodies, voted and enforced, or - worse, unfathomable for me - India, which resurrected anti-gay laws dating back from the colonial era.