Winston Churchill credited Alan Turing, who led efforts in cracking Nazi Germany’s code, as the person “who made the single biggest contribution to the allied victory in World War II.” While Turing’s discovery was a milestone in the allied victory, the same government that praised him would later prosecute and chemically castrate the pioneering mathematician and computer scientist for being gay.
He reportedly committed suicide in 1954, two years after he was castrated. His conviction for being gay was pardoned by Queen Elizabeth II in 2013.
Turing’s story is now a major motion picture, The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. The actor, who was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Turing, has joined 40,000 people in signing a letter demanding the British government pardon the estimated 15,000 gay men who are still alive and were convicted of “gross indecency” before homosexual offenses were completely decriminalized in 2001.
The letter argues that the United Kingdom’s anti-gay laws have “made the lives of generations of gay and bisexual men intolerable.” It urges the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to take a stand against the injustice and for the government to pardon “all the men, alive or deceased, who like Alan Turing were convicted.”
A spokesmen for the royal couple said it’s up to the government to act and refused to make a public comment on the matter.
Meanwhile, there is a similar petition that has garnered more than 60,000 signatures on Change.org.