British broadcaster Stephen Fry has penned an open letter telling the International Olympic Committee to condemn Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ laws.
The gay Jewish writer, comic and presenter said the treatment of LGBT people in Russia is remarkably similar to the suffering of Jews before the Holocaust.
The IOC has so far said they have had assurances from those in the top level of Russian government that the law will not be enforced during the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.
Fry said: ‘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.’
He continued to say: ‘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.’
Fry added: ‘He is making scapegoats of gay people, just as Hitler did Jews. He cannot be allowed to get away with it. I know whereof I speak. I have visited Russia, stood up to the political deputy who introduced the first of these laws, in his city of St Petersburg.
‘I looked into the face of the man and, on camera, tried to reason with him, counter him, make him understand what he was doing. All I saw reflected back at me was what Hannah Arendt called, so memorably, “the banality of evil”.’
Fry also appealed to Prime Minister David Cameron to also condemn the laws, saying while he has always opposed his views he respects how he fought for same-sex marriage in England and Wales.
‘I believe you know when a thing is wrong or right. Please act on that instinct now,’ he said.
It follows US President Barack Obama condemning the laws, saying he he has ‘no patience for countries that try to treat gays and lesbians and transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.’
Fry also listed the IOC oaths and protocols of the movement, saying they aim to cooperate with authorities to place sport at the service of humanity and thereby promoting peace, acting against any form of discrimination and encouraging and supporting initiatives blending sport with culture and education.
‘I am begging you to resist the pressures of pragmatism, of money, of the oily cowardice of diplomats and to stand up resolutely and proudly for humanity the world over, as your movement is pledged to do,’ he said.
‘Wave your Olympic flag with pride as we gay men and women wave our Rainbow flag with pride. Be brave enough to live up to the oaths and protocols of your movement.’