Prince William and Kate Middleton have refused to comment on a petition to pardon 49,000 gay and bisexual men who were persecuted in Britain up until the 1960s under harsh anti-gay laws.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s plea for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to support the campaign was yesterday rejected in a statement by their spokesperson; he said it is a matter for the British Government so the couple would not publicly comment on the campaign.
The letter states, “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.”
An apology for gay British codebreaker Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency for his sexual orientation, was issued by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009. In 2013, the Queen granted a posthumous pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy.
Turing was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 – for admitting to a relationship with another man – and was chemically castrated. He took his own life in 1954.
The letter called on members of the royal family to back the campaign to give a pardon to all those who were convicted of a crime because of their sexuality – a pardon that could wipe clean the records of 15,000 men still alive.
The letter continues, “Turing was one of the greatest heroes of the 20th century, a man whose work on the machines that deciphered the Enigma codes helped win World War II and who was pivotal in the development of modern computers.”
Peter Tatchell, who supports the campaign, told PinkNews, “An estimated 50,000-100,000 men were convicted under Britain’s anti-gay laws during the twentieth century. All these men deserve a pardon, like the one that was granted to Alan Turing. His pardon was much deserved, but he should not be singled out for special treatment.
“Unfairly, no such pardon has been extended to the tens of thousands of other gay victims – not even to other high profile victims such as Lord Montague and Sir John Gielgud.”
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