Alan Turing

Just days ago, I added my name to a petition asking the Government to make some kind of apology on behalf of the mathematician Alan Turing. I’m consequently delighted to see that Gordon Brown has issued just such a statement.

I remember hearing about Alan Turing when I was a young mathematics student. Brilliant, troubled, persecuted, he was one of the people whose skills made a world war end earlier than it otherwise might have done. It is very good to see Gordon Brown make the statement that people hoped for. It helps underline how unacceptable anti-gay prejudice has become in the public sphere in this country and it is most welcome.

It is funny how a statement from a figure with some authority can make a differerence. Gordon Brown is quite right that Alan Turing was judged under the standards of his own time, and equally right to use that to show how far we have come.

I remember a few years ago, when the Anglican Communion stuff was hotting up, that Bishop Idris made a comment at a synod recognising the hard work that gay clergy were doing in the diocese in the face of it all. That little comment meant quite a lot to a number of people who were working incredibly hard to keep both the Diocese and the Province alive.

Have a look at Gordon Brown’s statement. One day, bishops and archbishops will be making similar statements about the persecution of gay people in the church. At the moment, most of our bishops in Scotland seem to think it is helpful to offer their support to gay people merely in private. That dynamic is becoming increasingly unhelpful and there are other, more ugly, words that could be used to describe it, than support.