A new award in memory of Alan Turing has been launched to coincide with the centenary of his birth.
The Alan Turing Memorial Award will recognise individuals or groups who have made a significant contribution to the fight against homophobia in Manchester.
The annual award has been launched by Manchester City Council, in partnership with The Lesbian & Gay Foundation (LGF). The award will be a new special category in the LGF’s Homo Heroes Awards.
Alan Turing is considered to be the father of the modern computer. In Manchester he created the world’s first computer with storable memory. All modern computers – from laptops to iPads – are based on this prototype, which was called the Manchester Computer. His codebreaking work during the Second World War was instrumental in Britain’s defeat of the Nazis.
But Turing was also gay. He was prosecuted for having a relationship with a man and was forced to take female hormones to avoid jail. Two years after being convicted, Turing took his own life by taking a bite from an apple he had laced with cyanide.
Details of the award were announced at The Lesbian & Gay Foundation's officers at a special ceremony to mark what, on Saturday 23 June, would have been his 100th birthday
Councillor Kevin Peel, Manchester City Council’s lead member for gay men’s issues, said: "Alan Turing’s achievements during his life were remarkable. Had he not been hounded to death by the state because of his sexuality, who knows what other breakthroughs he could have made. Sadly, we will never know.
"The fact that we are celebrating his life and work shows how society has moved on, but the battle against homophobia continues. On a daily basis people still face prejudice because they are gay, even in our great city.
"This award will recognise those people who are making a difference to victims of homophobia, it will recognise those people who aren’t afraid to stand up and say we won’t tolerate it. It also represents a lasting legacy to Alan Turing, and is a fitting tribute to that great man. I’m sure he would have approved."
Paul Martin OBE, Chief Executive of the LGF added: "Alan Turing made a monumental contribution to the freedom that every single one of us enjoys in the UK today. What makes Turing's legacy so tragic is that in the final months and years of his life, many of his own freedoms were denied to him.
"He was punished because of his sexuality and had to make the humiliating choice between imprisonment or chemical castration. This ultimately led to him taking his own life. Had Turing been alive today, he would have rightly been celebrated as a hero.
"The Homo Heroes Awards provide an opportunity to celebrate people, businesses and organisations in our everyday lives that have made a significant contribution."
Councillor Bev Craig, lead member for lesbian issues, added: "We’re really pleased to be working in partnership with the LGF to recognise those people who stand up for Manchester’s LGBT communities.
"Alan Turing was not ashamed of who he was – but he paid the ultimate price. No-one should have to end their lives because of the bigotry."
The Homo Hero Awards are supported by Barclays. Julian Bucknall, Co-Chair Barclays Spectrum (the LGBT Employee Network) said: "At Barclays we believe people are at their best when they can truly be themselves. That is why we are proud to support the LGF in their mission to promote LGBT equality."
Nominations for the Alan Turing Memorial Award – and all the other Homo Heroes categories – can be made on the LGF’s website at www.lgf.org.uk/hero. The winner will be decided by a panel and the award will be presented by Cllr Peel at the Homo Hero Awards ceremony in September. The winner will also be invited to the Town Hall to be received by the Lord Mayor.