The Imitation Game‘s Benedict Cumberbatch Joins Campaign To Pardon Gay Men In Britain
In the wake of the Oscar nominated film The Imitation Game, Alan Turing’s gotten a lot of attention in the public consciousness— but what often gets left out of his amazing story of code-breaking and computer geniusery is that in 1952, he was convicted of “gross indecency” for being gay and was forcibly chemically castrated by his government. A few years later, he was dead by suicide.
Eventually Turing was given a formal apology from Parliament in 2009 and, after a long campaign, an official pardon from the Queen in 2013. However, 49,000 innocent men were also convicted of gross indecency along with Turing, 15,000 of whom are still alive and and are still convicts in the eyes of the law. That’s why a new campaign has begun to set things right via an open letter to the UK government, which already has 40,000 signatures.
According to The Guardian, it reads:
The UK’s homophobic laws made the lives of generations of gay and bisexual men intolerable.
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.
We call upon Her Majesty’s government to begin a discussion about the possibility of pardoning all the men, alive or deceased, who like Alan Turing were convicted.
Cumberbatch’s name is joined by those of Stephen Fry, Imitation Game director Morten Tyldum, and Turing’s niece Rachel Barnes—but notably, not Prince William and Kate Middleton, whose spokesperson told the press that they would not make any public comment and that this is a matter “for government.” Ugh, okay.
Of course, even if this pardon is achieved, that doesn’t absolve England of what it did to tens of thousands of men back in the day. “It’s an insult for anybody of authority or standing to sign off on [Turing] with their approval and say, ‘Oh, he’s forgiven,’” Cumberbatch told Out Magazine recently, regarding the original campaign. “The only person who should be [doing the] forgiving is Turing, and he can’t because we killed him. And it makes me really angry. It makes me very angry.”
While not the same open letter as the one Cumberbatch signed, there is also a petition on Change.org you can sign if you’re not a British subject, which as of writing has already surpassed 115,000 signatures.