Alan Turing: A Life Lost

Publish Date: 07/06/2012

On this day (June 7th) some 59 years ago, the world lost a very significant, influential and valuable man; Alan Turing.

During his lifetime he achieved so much. Now considered a World War II hero, he helped the Allies to victory by using his mathematical genius to create a machine called the Bombe, which, in turn, enabled the British government to crack the secrets of the German Enigma code. 

Alan then went on to create many new inventions including the Turing machine and the Turing Test, which is often referred to as the basis of modern computing. But whist alive, Alan received no recognition or accolade for his amazing work that he so rightly deserved.

Instead, he was subjected to chemical castration as a liquid “cure” for his homosexuality. His rights were swept away from him and his quality of life slowly began to deteriorate until the heart breaking day of June the 7th 1954 arrived and Alan, aged just 41 took his own life.

Paul Martin, CEO of The Lesbian & Gay Foundation says; "Alan Turing made a monumental contribution to the freedom that every single one of us enjoys in the UK today. What makes Turing's legacy so tragic is that in the final months and years of his life, many of his own freedoms were denied to him. He was punished because of his sexuality and had to make the humiliating choice between imprisonment or chemical castration. This ultimately led to him taking his own life. The fact that Alan Turing has not been officially pardoned, or had his conviction disregarded is something this country should be ashamed of. Had Turing been alive today, he would have rightly been celebrated as a hero. The least - the very least - we can do is remove the shameful shadow of institutional homophobia from his amazing legacy."

He is representative of every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) person who has ever felt the bitter sting of a government’s failure to acknowledge their basic human dignity, and should be remembered for his incredible contribution to not only British society but to humanity itself. 

Click here to read the latest issue of outnorthwest which features an interview with Alan Turing's old friend Alan Edwards.