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Sep 11, 2009
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has issued a posthumous apology for the "appalling" treatment of Alan Turing, the British code-breaker who was chemically castrated for being gay.

A portrait of Alan Turing is currently on display at the National Portrait Gallery's

A portrait of Alan Turing is currently on display at the National Portrait Gallery's "Gay Icons" exhibition.

The apology came after more than 30,000 people signed an online petition on the UK Government Web site calling for the government to recognize the "tragic consequences of prejudice that ended this man's life and career."

Turing was just 41 years old when he committed suicide, two years after undergoing a court-ordered chemical castration. He had been found guilty of gross indecency for having a homosexual relationship. The punishment in 1952 was either a prison sentence or chemical castration. Turing chose the latter.

In a statement on the British Government Web site, Prime Minister Gordon Brown acknowledged Turing's "outstanding" contribution during World War II.

"He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war," he wrote, adding, "The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely."

Turing is considered one of Britain's greatest mathematicians, a genius who is credited with inventing the Bombe, a code-breaking machine that deciphered messages encoded by German Enigma machines during World War II.

He went on to develop the Turing machine, a theory that automatic computation cannot solve all mathematical problems, which is considered the basis of modern computing.

Last month, the curious lack of public recognition for Turing's contribution to the war effort and computing in general motivated computer programmer John Graham-Cumming to campaign on his behalf.

The author of the "Geek Atlas," a travel guide for technology enthusiasts, started an online petition, and soon attracted high-profile signatories including scientist Richard Dawkins, actor Stephen Fry, author Ian McEwan and philosopher A.C. Grayling.

"I was surprised by both the number of people who signed and the fast response from the government," Graham-Cumming told CNN. He said the Prime Minister had called him personally to relay news of the apology.

Stories about calls for a British apology were carried in newspapers in France, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, Portugal Poland and the Czech Republic. Supporters set up an international petition which attracted more than 10,000 signatures.

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Posted: Sep 11, 2009 12:28pm

 

 
 
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Feb
15
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New Petition! Speak out against Time-Warner Merger with Comcast! Let your opinion be know before your bill goes up and your programming choices dwindle.\\r\\n\\r\\nUrge DOJ and FCC to Not Allow Merger of Time-Warner and Comcast\\r\\nhttp://www.t hepetitionsi...
Feb
13
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New Petition! Speak out against Time-Warner Merger with Comcast! Let your opinion be know before your bill goes up and your programming choices dwindle.\\r\\n\\r\\nUrge DOJ and FCC to Not Allow Merger of Time-Warner and Comcast\\r\\nhttp://www.t hepetitionsi...
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\\nIn a meeting of the EU General Affairs Council nineteen states opposed the approval of  GM Maize Pioneer 1507, developed jointly by DuPont and Dow Chemica l, while five supported it and four abstained from any view, EU officials s...
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Please sign this petition asking shelters to open before temperatures hit life-threatening levels: http://www.thepetitionsit e.co
Feb
12
by Just C.
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 \\r\\n\\r\\n\\r\\nW hy this is important\\r\\nAs a community comprised of members actively using the tools provided by this site to accomplish needed improvements to various aspects of all life (animal, human, environmental), we, the undersigned, are her...
Feb
11
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\r\nHow to spread the news\r\n02/11/14\r\n\r\nT his is really awfull, i did write many hosst announcements, but they dissapeared, luckely
Feb
10
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\\nDear friends! \\r\\nLet us please help these three innocent 6, 8 and 10-year-old children to get justice. \\r\\nThei stepfather abused them all and raped the youngest one.  \\r\\nThere is a very little hope he will get punished, since the ...
Feb
6
by Dave C.
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\\njust found this group and in case no one in it has been to care2 recently they now let you donate to save rainforest land using butterfly credits...just one hundred credits to donate.....saving rainforests is one of the most important things we can ...
Jan
28
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\\nSad that this peition has not gotten many signatures, I thought it would do well because anyone can participate.\\r\\nPlease sign if you have not done so yet. And if you have, thank you so much for all you do!!!  The dog pictured in the petition ...
Jan
24
by Ys A.
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\\nCoretta Scott King: “We have done what we can to reveal the truth, and we now urge you as members of the media, and we call upon elected officials, and other persons of influence to do what they can to share the revelation of this case to the ...