MOSCOW, August 7 (RIA Novosti) – Film and television star Stephen Fry urged the British prime minister and the International Olympics Committee on Wednesday to impose an “absolute ban” on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi for what he described as Russia’s persecution of gays.
Fry compared Russia’s recent anti-gay legislation to Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews in an open letter published on his website, laying a fair share of blame explicitly at the feet of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In June, Putin signed a law banning the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations” among minors. The legislation's critics worry that its vague wording may enable individuals to be implicated for even telling children that gay people exist. Violators face fines of up to $30,000.
While the law’s proponents say it is aimed at protecting children from harmful influences, critics say it is part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community.
In July, Putin signed a law prohibiting the adoption of Russian children by foreign same-sex couples. The legislation comes 20 years after homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia. A Stalin-era law had punished homosexuality with up to five years in prison.
In his letter, Fry called on British Prime Minister David Cameron and the IOC to ban the Sochi Games, widely known as Putin’s pet project.
“An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 in Sochi is simply essential,” Fry said. “At all costs, Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilized world.”
The anti-gay legislation has already attracted calls from activists around the world to boycott the Sochi Olympics.
An athlete found to be “propagandizing” gay relationships in Sochi would be “held accountable,” Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said earlier this month.
But the IOC told the R-Sport news agency that it was unmoved by the minister's comments and said it still had faith in the “assurances from the highest level of government in Russia” that athletes and spectators would be exempt from the law.
Updated on August 8, changing some wording in order to comply with Russian legislation on publicly insulting government officials.