Entertainment and media’s biggest figures, including the stars of The Imitation Game, are coming aboard a worldwide movement to demand pardons for the estimated 49,000 men who, like Alan Turing, were convicted of consenting same-sex relations under UK anti-gay laws. Matt Breen, Editor-In-Chief of The Advocate and noted gay rights activist, started a petition centered around the cause at Change.org, urging the British government to clear those tens of thousands of names as they did posthumously for Turing.
Having collected over 140,000 signatures, the call to action has quickly been gaining traction with ardent support coming from all over the globe. Several celebrities, including Matt Damon, Michael Douglas, Jessica Alba, Ryan Reynolds, and Bryan Cranston have signed on, and some have also taken the cause to social media platforms like Twitter, urging the public to follow suit in the call to action.
Backers from The Imitation Game include actors Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Rory Kinnear, and Alex Lawther, producers Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman, director Morten Tyldum, screenwriter Graham Moore, and editor Billy Goldenberg.
Other major celebrities standing by the petition include: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Alan Cumming, Alex Aja, Ben Winston, Bryan Cranston, Daisy Lowe, Dan Jones, Dan Rookwood, Danny Huston, Douglas Booth, Dustin Lance Black, Emily Kinney, Gary Barlow, Graham Norton, Isaac Mizrahi, James Corden, Jason Collins, Jessica Alba, Julian Fellows, Kathy Freston, Lance Bass, Lee Daniels, Lindsay Fellows, Matt Damon, Matthew Morrison, Melissa Benoist, Michael Douglas, Myanna Buring, Ned Benson, Philip Noyce, Rachel Dratch, Rick Edwards , Rory O’Malley, Rosie O’Donnell, Ryan Reynolds, Sam Taylor-Johnson, Stephen Fry, Tim Gunn, Will Poulter, and Zac Posen.
Tyldum said: “I recently received a letter from a 92 year-old man who was one of those prosecuted decades ago; he expressed how thankful he was for The Imitation Game shedding light on the matter. It’s incredibly moving to see the outpouring of support for this petition and men like him, who have deserved justice for so long.”
Cumberbatch said: “Alan Turing was not only prosecuted, but quite arguably persuaded to end his own life early, by a society who called him a criminal for simply seeking out the love he deserved, as all human beings do. Sixty years later that same government claimed to ‘forgive’ him by pardoning him. I find this deplorable, because Turing’s actions did not warrant forgiveness – theirs did – and the 49,000 other prosecuted men deserve the same.”
The Weinstein Company released The Imitation Game in select theaters on November 28 and nationwide on December 25. The film, which was produced by Black Bear Pictures and Bristol Automotive, has been nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor (Cumberbatch), Best Supporting Actress (Knightley), Best Director (Tyldum) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Moore.) It was also nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, included in the American Film Institute’s top 11 films of the year and nominated for three Screen Actors Guild Awards. Directed by Tyldum with a screenplay by Moore and produced by Grossman, Ostrowsky and Schwarzman, the film stars Cumberbatch, Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Charles Dance, and Mark Strong.
During the winter of 1952, British authorities entered the home of mathematician, cryptanalyst and war hero Alan Turing (Cumberbatch) to investigate a reported burglary. They instead ended up arresting Turing himself on charges of “gross indecency,” an accusation that would lead to his devastating conviction for the criminal offense of homosexuality – little did officials know, they were actually incriminating the pioneer of modern-day computing. Famously leading a motley group of scholars, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers, Turing was credited with cracking the so-called unbreakable codes of Germany’s World War II Enigma machine. An intense and haunting portrayal of a brilliant, complicated man, The Imitation Game follows a genius who under nail-biting pressure helped to shorten the war and, in turn, save millions of lives.