Benedict Cumberbatch has joined the campaign to secure official pardons for the gay and bisexual men who were convicted under the now-defunct “gross indecency” law in the UK.
Last week, the Oscar-nominated actor signed an open letter that calls on the British government to exonerate all 49,000 men who were convicted for being homosexual prior to 1967 – the year when the law was finally abolished – including 15,000 who are estimated to still be alive today.
It’s a campaign that hits close to home for the handsome actor, who is nominated for an Academy Award for his role in The Imitation Game. In the film, the Sherlock star plays Alan Turing, a computer pioneer who helped crack the Nazi Enigma code and contributed to the end of World War II.
Alan was later charged and convicted for having a sexual relationship with a man in 1952. As part of his sentence, he was forced to undergo hormonal treatment that rendered him impotent. He committed suicide two years later.
In 2014, the Queen posthumously pardoned Alan, but Benedict would like Her Majesty to take the gesture one step further by pardoning all of the men who were once found guilty. In the letter, he even urges Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, née Kate Middleton, to take up the cause.
"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," the letter says. "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."
A spokesperson for the royal couple has said William and Kate will make no comment on the letter, as this is a "government matter."
The letter's online petition has gotten more than 100,000 signatures so far.