An open letter, calling on the British Government to pardon 49,000 individuals, of which 15,000 are still living today, who were convicted of homosexual acts, has been signed by such luminaries as Stephen Fry and Benedict Cumberbatch, along with Alan Turing’s niece, Rachel Barnes, and the director of the Imitation Games, Morten Tyldum.
The letter states:
“We call upon Her Majesty’s Government to begin a discussion about the possibility of pardoning all the men, alive or deceased, who like Alan Turing were convicted”.
Alan Turing, the brilliant computer scientist and cryptologist, died in 1954, allegedly by suicide, having been convicted in 1952 of homosexual acts (gross indecency), and “chemically castrated”. Turing was a major figure in the victory for the allies in the Second World War, having worked at the Government Code & Cypher School, at Bletchley Park, in the UK. Here he worked on cracking the Nazi codes enciphered on the German-designed Enigma machine. He also developed the Turing Machine, the forerunner of modern computers. He was officially pardoned by the British government in 2013.
The open letter that Cumberbatch has signed now has in excess of 40,000 signatures.
There is also an online petition, on change.org, urging the extended pardon for the 49,000 convicted. The online petition at present has approximately 60,000 signatures.