In an open letter to the UK prime minister and the International Olympic Committee, English actor Stephen Fry is calling for moving the 2014 Winter Olympics away from Russia because of the country’s treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
“An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 on Sochi is simply essential. Stage them elsewhere in Utah, Lillyhammer, anywhere you like. At all costs Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world,” he writes.
A new law banning “homosexual propaganda” in Russia is vague, but its intent is clear: It is now “illegal to spread information about non-traditional sexual behavior” to minors (under 18), and there are hefty fines for those who disobey. Foreigners are also subject to fines and can be deported.
The atmosphere of the law has caused a significant rise in crimes against gay people, according to activists.
Fry likens the new law and the treatment of gays to the beginnings of Nazi Germany.
“He is making scapegoats of gay people, just as Hitler did Jews,” he wrote. “I am gay. I am a Jew. My mother lost over a dozen of her family to Hitler’s anti-Semitism. Every time in Russia (and it is constantly) a gay teenager is forced into suicide, a lesbian ‘correctively’ raped, gay men and women beaten to death by neo-Nazi thugs while the Russian police stand idly by, the world is diminished and I for one, weep anew at seeing history repeat itself.”