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This passionate speech about gay icon Alan Turing will move you to tears

This passionate speech about gay icon Alan Turing will move you to tears

Alan Turing, at the age of 16

The BBC named Alan Turing the most ‘iconic’ figure of the 20th Century on Tuesday (5 February).

Turing was instrumental in cracking Nazi codes during World War II. But he was later chemically castrated for being gay and is believed to have committed suicide.

He’s commonly known as the founding father of computer science.

But on the night, broadcaster Chris Packham gave an inspiring and heartwarming speech commemorating his life.

Portrait of Alan Turing from archive of papers relating to the development of computing at the National Physical Laboratory between the late 1940s and the early 1970s.
Portrait of Alan Turing from archive of papers relating to the development of computing at the National Physical Laboratory between the late 1940s and the early 1970s.

‘For me, science is the art of understanding truth and beauty,’ Packham said. ‘But for Turing, mathematics alone encapsulated the search for that most honorable human grail: pure truth.’

‘Truthfully, he knew more than most. He defined the computer, he designed a computer. Faced with global catastrophe, he built a computer,’ he said.

Packham believes Turing saved hundreds of thousands of lives, but all he got in return from society was a ‘poisoned apple’.

‘A genius [and] a saviour,’ Packham then said. ‘But he was also autistic and gay so we betrayed him and drove him to suicide.

‘Shame,’ he added.

Watch the heartbreaking speech:

To win the accolade, Turing beat figures such as Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Ernest Shackleton, Pablo Picasso, David Bowie and Muhammad Ali.

In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II pardoned Turing for his 1952 conviction for having sex with another man.

Some 49,000 gay men, now dead, were convicted for homosexuality. They include poet, wit and playwright Oscar Wilde.

See also:

Stephen Hawking gave more to humanity than science – changing perceptions of LGBTI and disabled people

The gay man who bombed a building and deserves to be celebrated as a hero

When Britain made gay men lie in their own vomit for days on end to try to ‘cure’ them