Royals decline gay men campaign
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge today declined to get involved in a campaign to pardon tens of thousands of gay men convicted alongside Imitation Game codebreaker Alan Turing.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Stephen Fry are among campaigners who have signed an open letter asking the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to support the campaign.
Cumberbatch, nominated for an Oscar for his role as Turing - a pioneering computer scientist who helped crack the Enigma code - wants a pardon for 49,000 other men prosecuted because of their sexuality.
Turing, whom Winston Churchill described as having "made the single biggest contribution to the Allied victory in the Second World War", was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 for being gay, and committed suicide two years later.
In a letter to the Government and published in The Guardian, campaigners are calling for the royal family to act and convince the Government to pardon all those convicted under the outdated law.
It 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.
"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."
The letter is also signed by Morten Tyldum, director of The Imitation Game, and Rachel Barnes who is Alan Turing's niece.
A spokesman for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said that as this is a matter for government they would not make any public comment on the issue.
In 2009, an "unequivocal apology" for Turing's appalling treatment was issued by then prime minister Gordon Brown.
The Queen granted the scientist a posthumous pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy in 2013, b ut the campaigners say this should be extended to all men who fell foul of the law.
It states: "The apology and pardon of Alan Turing are to be welcomed but ignores over 49,000 men who were convicted under the same law, many of whom took their own lives.
"An estimated 15,000 men are believed to still be alive."
An online petition - at www.Pardon49k.org - has so far been signed by more than 69,000 people.