thomaswalesThis month in the UK is LGBT History Month, and there currently there is history in the making with the final piece of the equality jigsaw in the UK – with Equal Marriage.

Many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have made huge contribution to society over years and this year’s LGBT History Month has been theme ‘science, maths and engineering’.

Alan Turning is an important example of how a LGBT person who made important contributions but how prejudice towards LGBT took away a fulfilling and happy life, for him and so many other LGBT people over the years.

Working in the IT industry I am shocked and intrigued with Turing’s life and his story. It is amazing to learn how our society in the past did not acknowledge his success because his sexuality put a bug black cloud over his achievements.

Turning (1912 – 1954) is known to be the father of modern computer systems. He designed and built some of the earliest electrical, programmable, and digital computers. Using this amazing and new technology he supported Britain to win the Second World War by cracking the Nazi’s Enigma machine code. By cracking the code he was able to use this vital intelligence to our advantages and was thought by most this development won the war.

Despite Turing’s huge contribution to computing, his part he played in the war effort, his personal life was up for discussion and in 1952 he was arrested and convicted for homosexuality, like other gay men at that time.  To avoid prison, he had to agree to ‘chemical castration’ and have a course of hormone therapy to reduce his libido. These were injections of oestrogen for a year which resulted in bodily changes such as development of breasts.

One of his colleagues commented on Alan Turning saying ‘Fortunately the authorities did not know that Turing was a homosexual. Otherwise we might have lost the war’. And this is true; LGBT people were unable to work in the British Army as they were seen as a risk to National security.

Two years later and on 7th June 1954, he committed suicide. Many however believe it may have been an assassination due to his sexuality.

Today we see the treatment to Turing’s has disgraceful. Personally I believe if Alan Turning was able to lead a prosperous and filling life the UK would have been the leaders in computing today. Turning’s case was only one out of many LGBT people who was ‘chemical castrated’ after the war.

In 2013 we are so lucky to be in the position that we are in, and we should remember the struggles and trauma that LGBT people have gone through to fight for equal rights. I would suggest researching into other famous LGBT people, William Shakespeare or maybe Florence Nightingale.

They is still so much work that we can do for equality in both law and attitudes – so let’s make change, make history, LGBT history!

 

Categories: Features

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