There's nothing better than when actors decide to reach beyond their roles and try to do real good in the world. One of those actors is none other than Benedict Cumberbatch who is trying to get Britain to pardon those convicted under the anti-gay law. It's a defunct law now, but not that long ago people like World War II hero Alan Turing were treated as criminals, castrated, and many of them jailed, for "gross indecency." Or as it's known today: simply being gay or bisexual.
Although the law is no longer in effect, many people were never granted pardon because they died before the law went away. Alan Turing himself was only pardoned in December 2013, nearly 60 years after his death, and his status as war hero likely helped his cause. But many other everyday people never received official pardoning from the government, and Cumberbatch is trying to change that.
Inspired by his time playing Alan Turing for The Imitation Game Cumberbatch has teamed up with actor Stephen Fry on this task. They sent a letter to Kate Middleton and Prince William urging them to persuade the government to enact a full pardon. The heartfelt letter reads as such:
The UK's homophobic laws made the lives of generations of gay and bisexual men intolerable. 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.
Although many of the convicted men are now deceased, the letter estimates that 15,000 are still alive, and this pardon could mean a lot to them.
Unfortunately the Duke and Duchess' response to the letter was less than satisfactory. In a statement they said the matter is for the government to decide and as such, the royal family will not be weighing in. But even without the monarchy's support, Cumberbatch and Fry's letter has garnered wide attention and hopefully public opinion will help the government see that this is important. The law may be outdated, but pardoning those affected would symbolize how far gay rights has come. Those people, and their families, deserve to know that their government recognizes the suffering they endured.
He may only be an actor but he's also trying to do good, and there's nothing better than when a role stretches beyond the screen to have a real impact on the world. It's clear that Cumberbatch won't stop until that justice is served.
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