Stephen Fry has urged people to get behind a petition to pardon all men convicted under UK anti-gay laws.

It is estimated that 49,000 people were convicted of consenting same sex-relations under the British gross indecency law, which was only repealed in 2003.

The actor and gay-rights activist said: “Alan Turing was the greatest computer scientist ever born in Britain. In one stroke he defined the criteria by which the Nazi’s “impossible” Enigma code could be broken and laid the foundations of modern computing. He was a hero.

“He was also gay. He was prosecuted for it, punished with chemical castration and took his own life, aged 41. In 2013 the British Government rightly pardoned Turing. But Turing was not the only man convicted for being gay under the laws of “gross indecency”.

“Their lives were destroyed. They suffered humiliation, violence and total estrangement from their families which in some cases also led to suicide.

“The Imitation Game film has brought Alan Turing’s story to cinemas around the globe. But what about all of the men whose stories will never be heard? They also deserve their names to be cleared.”

The veteran comic put his weight behind a change.org petition started by American journalist Matthew Breen yesterday.Breen, who is the Editor-in-Chief of The Advocate and Deputy Editor of Out Magazine, said: “Each of these 49,000 men deserves the justice and acknowledgment from the British government that this intolerant law brought not only unwarranted shame, but horrific physical and mental damage and lost years of wrongful imprisonment to these men.”

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