Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein wrote an essay after British lawmakers blocked a proposed Alan Turing law, which would have posthumously pardoned 49,000 people who were criminalized for being gay, like Turing.
The British computer scientist, who was the subject of the 2015 film The Imitation Game portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, was a codebreaker during World War II. He was also chemically castrated after it was discovered that he was gay. He committed suicide 1954 at the age of 41.
Weinstein, who distributed the film via The Weinstein Company, wrote a letter after the British Parliament blocked the law last week through a filibuster. The law was the result of a petition his company worked on during the release of the film.
In the letter, the 64-year-old wrote that in “the 1950s in Britain,… being gay was a crime and men like Turing were arrested, jailed, and in some cases, like Turing’s, underwent horrific medical torture.”
“When we were working on the movie, Benedict said to me that he wanted to do right by all of the men who received similar treatment to Turing and were criminalized simply because of who they loved,” he continued. “To date, more than 600,000 people have joined our fight and signed the petition to pardon these men. All looked good until this last month when Parliament blocked the vote through a filibuster to approve the pardons. I failed. We all failed, but our fight is not over because we’re not finished.”
He went on to explain the motto that drives the company he founded with his brother Bob, Miramax, and that now drives The Weinstein Company, a quote by Kurt Vonnegut: “There is no good reason good can’t triumph over evil, if only angels will get organized along the lines of the mafia.”
“It’s no exaggeration to say that without Alan Turing, life today would be completely different,” Weinstein wrote. “He single-handedly changed the course of history, and without him I dread to think what our world might be like today. His legacy is unending.”
He added that while Turing may have been pardoned, thousands of others have not received the same treatment, causing the Oscar-winner to begin a petition in 2014, which he is now relaunching.
While the decision to pass the Turing law was blocked, the British Parliament will revisit it and vote again on Dec. 16, something Weinstein says is right around Academy Awards season, a time when “great conversations are going to surface and positive messages will be spread.”
“We’ve seen the injustices done to those 49,000 people and we cannot allow it to continue, not in 2016,” he wrote, adding “The Members of Parliament who blocked the vote last month are hopefully about to get a new lesson in parliamentary procedure! Maybe we should show them Mr. Smith Goes to Washington – that’s how filibusters move us forward, not set us back.”
Weinstein has enlisted the help of civil rights lawyers David Boies and Ted Olson to advise on the Turing law. They were involved in overturning California’s Prop 8 law.
“We’ll use the power of social media, we’ll meet with the people who obstructed the bill originally, calling for justice in the face of such obscure and outdated decisions,” he wrote. “We’ll enjoy the tenacious work and eventually, celebrate the justice these men should have had long ago.”