Benedict Cumberbatch and comedian Stephen Fry have united to seek a royal pardon for 49,000 British men who were persecuted in the 1950s for being gay, along with Enigma code breaker Alan Turing.
Turing, who is portrayed by Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game, was a mathematician who famously broke the Nazi Engima code during WWII. He was later prosecuted for homosexual acts in 1952 and was forced to undergo chemical castration.
Cumberbatch recently told the 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.”
He continued: “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.”
While Queen Elizabeth II pardoned Turing in 2013, Fry has said of the other gay men who suffered the same treatment, “There is a feeling that perhaps if he should be pardoned, then perhaps so should all of those men, whose names were ruined in their lifetime, but who still have families.”
Fry, 57, who recently married a man who is thirty years his junior, has also announced a campaign to put Turing on the £10 note, according to the Belfast Telegraph.
Turing died in 1954 of cyanide poisoning, more than a decade before homosexuality was decriminalized in the UK. His death was later ruled a suicide.