Wed | Jan 23, 2019

Push for pardon of men convicted of gay crimes

Published:Sunday | February 1, 2015 | 12:00 AM

LONDON (AP):Oscar-nominated actor Benedict Cumberbatch has joined others in calling for the British government to pardon gay and bisexual men convicted in the past under the defunct 'gross indecency' law.

Their letter, published yesterday in The Guardian, praises the government for the 2013 pardon of World War II codebreaker Alan Turing, whom Cumberbatch portrays in the movie, The Imitation Game.

Turing, who played a vital role in breaking the German wartime code, was praised by Winston Churchill as having made "the single biggest contribution" to the Allied victory in World War II.

But Turing, a gay man in an era when homosexuality was illegal, was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 and committed suicide two years later.

Turing was pardoned by Queen Elizabeth II at the recommendation of the government, but the letter points out that 49,000 other men convicted under the same law also merit pardons.

"The UK's homophobic laws made the lives of generations of gay and bisexual men intolerable," the letter said.

Benedict Cumberbatch (left) and Allen Leech, of 'The Imitation Game', pose in the press room with the ensemble performance award at the 26th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala on Saturday, January 3, 2015, in Palm Springs, California.