It’s hard not to fall in love with Benedict Cumberbatch these days, especially when he plays the gay card. In his newest film, The Imitation Game, Cumberbatch brings to life Alan Turing, the famous English computer scientist and mathematician who helped the Allied forces break the Nazis’ “Enigma” code during World War II.
Despite his wartime triumphs, Turing’s story turned tragic when he was found to be gay and was subsequently put to trial for his gender orientation under the UK indecency laws. He chose to be chemically castrated rather than imprisoned, and he committed suicide at the age of 54. He was pardoned by Queen Elizabeth in 2013.
Recently, when Stephen Fry announced a campaign to overturn “indecency” convictions for 49,000 men, Benedict shared in his call to have them pardoned.
The story gained attention when The Imitation Game was shown in theaters in the UK. One screening in London’s Ham Yard Hotel for the BAFTA members allowed for Stephen Fry — a British comedian, actor, and gay rights activist — to talk about the movie, the demise of Alan Turing, and to ask the Queen to pardon the other gay men who have been convicted under this law.
“There is a general feeling that perhaps if he should be pardoned, then perhaps so should all those men whose names were ruined in their lifetime,” he said as he talked in front of BAFTA voters that evening.
Cumberbatch, meanwhile, sent an email to the Hollywood Reporter in order to rally his support for Fry’s campaign. In his email, he said:
“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.”
There is also an open letter sent to the British government to get young leaders such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to look into the situation and to seek justice for those convicted.
With this campaign on the roll, people like Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, are backing up this idea as they set to honor the movie and its hero, Alan Turing.
Without a doubt, actors like Benedict Cumberbatch and Stephen Fry are making their mark by taking a step toward furthering equality in society. We can only hope that these pardons will be made and that these laws will be eradicated. May there be a silver lining for those who have been waiting to feel safe under their own constitution.