We know that being gay used to be considered a crime in many places in the world, and remains that way in many others. Unfortunately for Alan Turing, the genius codebreaker depicted by Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game, Great Britain in World War II was one of those places.
Stephen Fry, during a recent Q&A, addressed the issue he had with the pardoning of Turing back in 2013, while the tens of thousands of others remain besmirched in history. “Should Alan Turing have been pardoned just because he was a genius,” Fry asked, “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? There is a general 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 went on about the “nasty, pernicious, and horrific law and one that allowed so much blackmail and so much misery and so much distress. Turing stands as a figure symbolic to his own age in the way that Oscar Wilde was, who suffered under a different law, but a similar one.”
Benedict Cumberbatch replied to The Hollywood Reporter via email, saying that the government’s decision to “forgive” Turing 60 years after he was prosecuted and later committed suicide, was “deplorable,” saying “Turing’s actions did not warrant forgiveness — theirs did — and the 49,000 other prosecuted men deserved the same.”
An online petition has been started at Change.org to pardon the tens of thousands of men persecuted alongside Turing that. Watch the clip below: