Benedict Cumberbatch has joined Stephen Fry to campaign for a pardon for the thousands of gay men who were convicted alongside Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing in the 1950s.
Turing, who Cumberbatch played in The Imitation Game, was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 for being gay, before being sentenced to chemical castration.
He later died of cyanide poisoning, before homosexuality was eventually decriminalised in 1967 – and the Queen issued a pardon for his ‘crime’ in 2013.
Following a screening of Oscar-nominated film The Imitation Game in London, Stephen Fry gave a speech in which he said that Queen Elizabeth II’s pardon of Turing in 2013 was just one of the ways Turing should be honoured, and also called for pardons for many thousands of other Brits who may not have been math geniuses like Turing but were also prosecuted for being gay.
Cumberbatch emailed The Hollywood Reporter from the set of the next Sherlock series to declare his support for Fry’s idea.
“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. 60 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.”