U.K. spy chief sorry for gay ban

Winnipeg Free Press - SundayXtra - - WORLD -

Cum­ber­batch, brought his story to a new gen­er­a­tion. At GCHQ, Tur­ing is now seen as a ge­nius — “a prob­lem-solver who was not afraid to think dif­fer­ently and rad­i­cally,” Han­ni­gan said.

It was partly to hon­our Tur­ing that the agency’s head­quar­ters was lit up dur­ing a global cel­e­bra­tion of gen­der and sex­ual di­ver­sity last year.

“It was also kind of an act of atone­ment — for the lost op­por­tu­nity of his early death,” Han­ni­gan said. “Who knows what Tur­ing would have gone on to do, where, for ex­am­ple, he might have taken his pi­o­neer­ing in­ter­est in ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, which is the thing every­one is talk­ing about. We will never know and should, as a so­ci­ety, never re­peat that mis­take.” Han­ni­gan said things are dif­fer­ent now.

To make the point, he shared a story about an in­ter­nal agency blog head­lined “So it’s good­bye from him.” Han­ni­gan said at first he thought it was writ­ten by some­one who was leav­ing the agency for the pri­vate sec­tor. It turned out to be the story of a trans­gen­der em­ployee — whom he called Emma — who had fi­nally de­cided to start the process of tran­si­tion.

“We have a lot of coura­geous staff, civil­ian and mil­i­tary, straight and gay, who have de­ployed to Afghanistan, to Iraq, and other con­flicts,” Han­ni­gan said.

“But it takes a par­tic­u­lar kind of courage to write what Emma wrote in front of thou­sands of her col­leagues.”

Han­ni­gan said he was proud the blog was the most “liked” the agency had ever had, and that the com­ments were gen­uinely sup­port­ive. But he stressed GCHQ was still far from a utopia.

“That is the real point of di­ver­sity for me,” he said.

“To do our job, which is solv­ing some of the hard­est tech­nol­ogy prob­lems the world faces for se­cu­rity rea­sons, we need all tal­ents, and we need peo­ple who dare to think dif­fer­ently and be dif­fer­ent... Dull uni­for­mity would com­pletely de­stroy us.”


Alan Tur­ing com­mit­ted sui­cide.

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