Prince William & Kate Middleton Reject Benedict Cumberbatch's Gay Rights Plea & It's A Major Step Backwards
Benedict Cumberbatch has been an avid ally for gay rights both within and outside of the sphere of his film The Imitation Game, which follows the tragic life of WWII codebreaker Alan Turing who was later punished by the British government for being a homosexual. Cumberbatch, who plays Turing in the film and has been nominated for an Academy Award for his performance, has been concentrating his efforts in a plea to the British government to pardon those convicted in the British "anti-gay" law. Unfortunately, on Sunday, it was revealed that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Prince William and Kate Middleton have officially rejected the petition.
Alan Turing was one of the few British citizens who was pardoned decades after his death, not in small part for his indispensable genius that aided the UK in winning the war. Turing was convicted and castrated in 1952 and committed suicide not two years later, and was not granted pardon until 2009. Cumberbatch and fellow comedian and advocate, the openly gay Stephen Fry, captained the petition, writing:
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.
Sadly, Will and Kate decided perhaps that it was not their responsibility after all to take heed of the petition, which asks the British government to pardon the 49,000 homosexuals that were convicted for "gross indecency." The Duke and Duchess' representatives say that since this is a government matter, they will not make any public statement on the issue.
Their silence speaks volumes. Not only did they make a grievous error and miss an opportunuity to usher in a new era of tolerance in the British government for atoning for past bigotry, their lack of comment seems almost cowardly. What is their motivation for not wanting to show support for so many who suffered at the hands of the Monarchy itself? It's easy to believe that there is probably some justification that Will and Kate's representatives are citing for the reason they rejected the petition, but it's inexcusable.
The petition is asking a small penance: Cumberbatch, Fry and the 90,000 people who signed the plea are not asking the Duke and Duchess to implement any new laws with regards to gay rights, but to simply honor and atone for the suffering, pain and injustice that so many were subject to, and for many, including Turing, caused them to take their lives. Even though they refused to comment, Will and Kate's actions speak for themselves.