The Bank of England has issued a new €50 note paying tribute to mathematician and computer pioneer Alan Turing, who helped the Allies win World War II with his ability to break the German’s secret code, but died an outcast because of his homosexuality.
The note will be officially put into circulation on June 23rd -Turing’s birthday.
Andrew Bailey, the Governor of the Bank of England, noted in prepared remarks that Turing’s code-breaking work shortened the last World War by about two years and saved millions of people. Turing’s pioneering work in the fields of computers and artificial intelligence has had a huge impact on the world to this day.
The new banknote completes the bank’s family of polymer banknotes, which are more durable and harder to counterfeit. Other polymer banknotes currently in circulation include Winston Churchill, Jane Austen and J.M.W. Turner.
Turing’s selection came after The Banknote Character Advisory Committee received about 1,000 unique nominations on a shortlist of 12. Turing became the final choice after beating the likes of Rosalind Franklin, Ada Lovelace and Stephen Hawking.
Turing was convicted of homosexuality in 1952 under the “gross indecency” law after it was revealed he was in a relationship with another man, had his security clearance revoked and was forced to take estrogen injections to neutralize his sex drive – a condition for him to avoid a two-year prison sentence. Turing died of suicide by cyanide poisoning at the age of 41. Queen Elizabeth II issued a posthumous pardon for Turing in 2013.
LGBTQ advocates celebrated the release of the banknote on social media, which is seen as a long overdue step toward greater visibility and inclusivity.
For more information, you may view the original story from NPR.