Cumberbatch has been a very vocal supporter of gay rights, especially after playing Turing, a computer pioneer who helped break the Nazi Enigma code in World War II and who was prosecuted for being gay. Turing took his own life rather than undergo the oppressive hormone therapy the British government would have forced on him. Britain pardoned Turing in 2013, 61 years after his tragic death.
Cumberbatch has created a petition to pardon thousands of less high-profile gay men who were also convicted under Britain's old homosexuality laws. Prince William and Kate Middleton, however, have declined to support the petition, according to The Independent.
A letter to the British government said, "It is up to young leaders of today, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, to acknowledge this mark on our history and not allow it to stand... We call upon Her Majesty's Government to begin a discussion about the possibility of a pardoning all the men, alive or deceased, who like Alan Turing were convicted."
Apparently the young royals feel it is a matter best suited for the government and have made no official comment.
In an email Cumberbatch sent to The Hollywood Reporter, he wrote, "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."
Cumberbatch has been nominated for an Oscar for his role as Turing in The Imitation Game, which is currently showing in theaters.
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