Alan Turing – a WWII War Hero Posthumously Pardoned for being Gay

One of the key successes in 2013 has been the movement to advance the civil rights of the LGBT community. While restrictions continue in too many places, the movement is garnering more favor than not. Yet, on Christmas Eve, we were reminded on how far we have come, when Queen Elizabeth signed a pardon for the then criminal behavior of Alan Turing for simply being a gay man. Turing was not an ordinary man, as his efforts helped shorten World War II by two years, in the estimation of more astute historians. He led the efforts to break the Nazi’s Enigma Code working with a team of people at Bletchley Park near Oxford. He saved the lives of countless military and civilian people and helped end the crusade of one of the more vicious villains in history.

Turing committed suicide using Cyanide in 1954 after becoming an angry and depressed man. He was imprisoned and maltreated with his guards giving him estrogen treatment to control his perceived wrongful sexual urges. Historians have termed this “chemical castration.” This brilliant mathematician went on to contribute advancements to computer science and biology on top of his war contributions. Yet, we will never know what other contributions he could have made to society, as he was treated like an animal and, eventually, took his own life. More on Turing’s story can be found with the attached link:

Treating people like you want to be treated is the greatest teaching I gleaned from the bible. It is the right thing to do. When Pope Francis answered a question on homosexuality being a sin, he made the most significant statement of the year – “Who am I to judge?” Yet, we still have too many who do judge acrimoniously and want to exclude people who act and believe differently. These folks deem LGBTs as not worthy to be loved by their god. I used a small “g” with purpose here, as the God I tend to believe in as an inclusive one. A god that excludes people deserves a small “g” because the people who created that image are being small-minded.

Turing was a war hero and was still treated like criminal when he committed no crime. A pardon sixty years later seems to be a far cry shy of what is needed. But, setting that aside, let me offer the same comment I make when I speak of women being treated as second class citizens and possessions around the globe. If you consider people as assets and intellectual capital, by treating them poorly and not giving them opportunity and liberty to live a productive life, then you are short-changing not only them, but society as well. What is interesting is the number of corporations who are realizing this and are leading change as noted in the attached link to an article from this week in Benefits Pro:

Even if Alan Turing was just a Joe Schmoe, he deserved to be treated better than he was. The fact that he was one of the most brilliant mathematicians who saved many lives and made the world better, but was treated like an animal is a horrible tragedy. It makes me wonder how many other brilliant accomplishments have been squelched out before they ever began because of the infringement on the civil liberties or lives of people who were treated differently due to their sexual orientation, gender, caste level or color of their skin. Treat people like you want to be treated. Jesus’ Golden Rule did not have any caveats. We should not either.


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