Monday, June 23, 2014

Alan Turing was born on 23rd June 1912, exactly 102 years ago today. He died from cyanide poisoning at the age of 41. Whether he committed suicide or was murdered is, today, the subject of some speculation. One thing is for sure, though: Turing was a victim of homophobia. Sixty years later, and with gay people now allowed to get married, it would be nice to think the kind of anti-gay prejudice which led to Turing's death was a thing of the past. But unfortunately that's not the case.

In early 2011 I suggested BBC Children's should do something in time for Turing's centenary year. My email to Joe Godwin dated 10th January 2011 was answered on 24th January 2011 but with no reference to the Turing idea. The Centenary year came and went without any mention of Turing on the CBBC channel or on Newsround's website.

For a while it seemed Turing was persona non grata on CBBC. Then, this year, Absolute Genius with Dick and Dom devoted an entire episode to Alan Turing. But the failure to say anything about his sexuality gives every impression that someone at BBC Children's doesn't believe in equality for lesbian and gay people.

Many biographies of scientists in other episodes from the Absolute Genius series had references to (heterosexual) family relationships, so I asked a few CBBC executives including channel controller, Cheryl Taylor, whether they thought children might benefit from the knowledge that one of Britain's great geniuses and heroes was gay. No-one has ventured to answer that question. To do so would risk the ire of the department boss, whose discriminatory attitude was clear from a quote published in "Portrayal of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People" (November 2012)

No comments: