Benedict Cumberbatch, star of The Imitation Game, has asked for ordinary men to be given the same official pardon as Alan Turing, who was prosecuted for gross indecency in 1952. Cumberbatch has the backing of his co-star Allen Leech, broadcaster Stephen Fry and the Turing family.
Turing helped win the Second World War by developing machines to decipher the Enigma codes but died in 1954, 16 days before his 42nd birthday, from cyanide poisoning. An inquest determined his death a suicide.
He was prosecuted in 1952 for homosexual acts, when such behaviour was still criminalised in the UK. He accepted treatment with oestrogen injections as an alternative to prison. In 2009 British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official apology on behalf of the British government for "the appalling way Turing was treated". Queen Elizabeth II granted him a posthumous pardon in 2013. An estimated 49,000 other homosexual men were convicted under the same law.
An open letter addressed to Her Majesty’s Government appeal to “young leaders” and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for the convictions to be overturned.
"It is up to young leaders of today including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to acknowledge this mark on our history and not allow it to stand.”
The BBC reported that a spokesman for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said it was a matter for government and they would not make any public comment.
Cumberbatch told Hollywood Reporter:
"Alan Turing was not only prosecuted, but quite arguably persuaded to end his own life early, by a society who called him a criminal for simply seeking out the love he deserved, as all human beings do.
“Sixty years later, that same government claimed to ‘forgive’ him by pardoning him. I find this deplorable, because Turing’s actions did not warrant forgiveness — theirs did — and the 49,000 other prosecuted men deserve the same."
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