At least the Prime Minister's apology for the homophobic persecution of war-time code breaker and computer genius Alan Turing is commendable; governments rarely apologise for anything.
'A similar apology is due to the estimated 100,000 British men who were also convicted of consenting, victimless same-sex relationships during the twentieth century'said Peter Tatchell.
Alan Turing helped break the code which allowed the Navy to defeat his U-boats and win the Battle of the Atlantic.
Turing's old colleague at Bletchley Park, Professor Jack Good, who died this year at the age of 92, commented drily that it 'was a good thing the authorities hadn't known Turing was a homosexual during the war, because if they had, they would have fired him - and we would have lost'.
In 1952 Turing was arrested and tried for homosexuality, then a criminal offence. To avoid prison, he accepted injections of oestrogen for a year, which were intended to neutralise his libido. In that era, homosexuals were considered a security risk as they were open to blackmail. Turing's security clearance was withdrawn, meaning he could no longer work for GCHQ, the post-war successor to Bletchley Park. He committed suicide on 7 June 1954.
Though most famous for his codebreaking, Turing also made significant contributions to the emerging field of artificial intelligence and computing, and is often considered to be the father of modern computer science. After the war he worked at many institutions, including the University of Manchester, where he worked on the Manchester mark 1, one of the first recognisable modern computers. In 1999 Time Magazine named him as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.