Today it’s been revealed that famed gay scientist and codebreaker Alan Turing will be the face of England’s new £50 note.
Chosen from a list of over 1,000 British scientists for his leading role in cracking the Enigma code during World War Two as well as the persecution he later suffered for his homosexuality, Turing’s note is expected to enter circulation by 2021.
Considered to be the father of modern computer science, the decision is a landmark as Turing will be the first openly LGBT+ person to appear on an English banknote.
The note will feature a quote from Turing, reading ‘this is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only a shadow of what is going to be’ as well as a binary code depicting the scientist’s birthday.
Earlier this year, Turing was voted BBC Two’s most influential person of all time as part of the network’s Icons: The Greatest Person of the 20th Century programme.
The computer scientist and mathematician beat out other legends such as Pablo Picasso, David Bowie and Nelson Mandela for the title.
Turing received a royal pardon from Queen Elizabeth II in 2013, sixty years after his conviction for gross indecency after his relationship with another man was discovered by police.
As a condition of his so-called crime, Turing was subjected to hormone replacement therapy which feminised his body in order to ‘reduce libido’. Due to his arrest, Turing was barred from continuing his scientific work for the British government.
Despite the importance of his work at Bletchley Park during World War Two, Alan Turing died by suicide in 1954, two years after his criminal conviction. Homosexuality in England continued to be a criminal offence until 1967.
Alan Turing’s Law came into effect in England and Wales in 2017 and acts as a widespread pardon for gay men who were either convicted or cautioned during the time that homosexuality was criminalised. This law is just another ripple effect of Alan Turing’s historical influence and importance as a member of the LGBT+ community.
Bank of England governor Mark Carney spoke of the decision to choose Turing today, saying ‘Alan Turing’s contributions were far-ranging and path-breaking. He is a giant on whose shoulders so many now stand’.
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