Published On: Fri, Jan 30th, 2015

Fry, Cumberbatch, Appeal for Overturning of 1950s Homosexuality Convictions in Britain

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Comedian Stephen Fry and actor Benedict Cumberbatch have joined a campaign to get a royal pardon for the 49, 000 British gay men persecuted in the 1950s, the Express reported.

The 38-year-old Sherlock star and 57-year-old comedian have joined countless more in the campaign to rewrite history for the thousands of gay men who were convicted, the report said.

Alan Turing, a wartime code-breaker who Benedict portrays in the Hollywood film The Imitation Game, was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 for being gay, before being sentenced to chemical castration.

Turing later died of cyanide poisoning, and homosexuality was decriminalized in 1967. In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II issued a pardon for his “crime.”

Cumberbatch condemned the society which called the war hero a criminal in a letter to 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 wrote.

“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.”

He joined Fry, who backed the campaign and started his own to have Turing’s icon put on the £10 note.

“Should Alan Turing have been pardoned just because he was a genius when somewhere between 50 to 70 thousand other men were imprisoned, chemically castrated, had their lives ruined or indeed committed suicide because of the laws under which Turing suffered?” he said in a speech recently, the report said.

“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.”

He added, “It was a nasty, malicious and horrific law and one that allowed so much blackmail and so much misery and so much distress, and Turing stands as a figure symbolic to his own age in the way that Oscar Wilde was.”

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