British actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Stephen Fry have joined in calling for pardons for the thousands of men who, like Alan Turing, were persecuted by the British government for being gay.

Turing, the subject of the Oscar-nominated film The Imitation Game, was a brilliant mathematician who helped crack the German Enigma machine code, a turning point for the Allies in World War II. After the war, he was sentenced to two years of chemical castration under the British law for “gross indecency,” which was overturned in 1967, for acknowledging that he was gay.

In the film, Cumberbatch plays Turing, who was pardoned by the queen last year after a vocal campaign.

The openly gay, recently married Fry called for the pardons during a recent panel about the film: “Should Alan Turing have been pardoned just because he was a genius, when somewhere between 50 to 70 thousand other men imprisoned, chemically castrated, had their lives ruined or indeed committed suicide because of the laws under which Turing suffered? There is a general feeling that perhaps if he should be pardoned, then perhaps so should all of those men, whose names were ruined in their lifetime, but who still have families … It was a nasty, malicious and horrific law and one that allowed so much blackmail and so much misery and so much distress. Turing stands as a figure symbolic to his own age in the way that Oscar Wilde was, who suffered under a more but similar one.”

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Cumberbatch echoed a similar sentiment.

“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. 60 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.”

On Sunday, Matthew Breen, editor-in-chief of gay glossy The Advocate, posted a petition addressed to the British government.

“While these 49,000 men have all since passed away, they deserve 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. Alan Turing was pardoned in 2013, but the other 49,000 men deserve the same,” Breen wrote.