Should Alan Turing Be Remembered as a Criminal?

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on Advocate.com December 16 2012 11:59 AM ET

Alan Turing is a war hero and a convicted criminal, but Stephen Hawking is joining a call for the British government to change that status.

The well known scientist joined 10 others in writing a public letter in the Daily Telegraph this week that asks Prime Minister David Cameron to "formally forgive" Turing, a gay man who was convicted of gross indecency back when homosexuality was still a crime in the country. Some have argued the conviction should stand because it reflects the reality of the time period.

Turing is the same man who cracked the "German Enigma" code being used by the Nazis, a revelation credited with helping to end World War II. A bill in the House of Lords is pending that would grant Turing a pardon. But it hasn't gained much traction.

Meanwhile, Britain passed a law allowing people to apply for having a homosexuality conviction scrubbed from their criminal record. Obviously you have to be alive to make an application.

In Australia, The Age reports that lawmakers are pressing for a similar law for issuing sweeping pardons. Gay sex was outlawed there until 1981.