Stephen Fry Urges David Cameron To Ban Russia From Hosting Winter Olympics Over Gay Policies

'Vladimir Putin Is Like Hitler'

Stephen Fry has called for Russia to be stripped of next year's Winter Olympics due to Vladimir Putin's "barbaric" persecution of gay people.

In an open letter to David Cameron and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) published on his blog and on The Huffington Post UK on Wednesday, Fry said Putin was repeating Adolf Hitler's "insane crime" of persecuting a minority within his country - only this time it was gay people rather than Jewish people who were the targets.

"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 said.

"He is making scapegoats of gay people, just as Hitler did Jews. He cannot be allowed to get away with it."

Addressing the plight of gay people in Russia, Fry said "beatings, murders and humiliations are ignored by the police. Any defence or sane discussion of homosexuality is against the law".

Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, has passed a law imposing heavy fines for providing information about homosexuality to people under 18.

Last week Vitaly Milonov, one of the politicians behind the bill, has said gay athletes and supporters at Russia’s 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games could face arrest.

Last month, the IOC said it would "work to ensure that the Games can take place without discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators and the media".

It said: "To that end, the IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games."

But Fry attacked the defence that sport and politics were not connected. "It does not exist in a bubble outside society or politics," he said.

"The idea that sport and politics don’t connect is worse than disingenuous, worse than stupid. It is wickedly, wilfully wrong."

"The IOC absolutely must take a firm stance on behalf of the shared humanity it is supposed to represent against the barbaric, fascist law."

Addressing the IOC, he said the Olympic movement must "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".

And he told Cameron not to ignore his commitment to protect gay people. Fry said: "You showed a determined, passionate and clearly honest commitment to LGBT rights and helped push gay marriage through both houses of our parliament in the teeth of vehement opposition from so many of your own side.

"For that I will always admire you, whatever other differences may lie between us. In the end I believe you know when a thing is wrong or right. Please act on that instinct now."

Following the passage of the same-sex marriage Bill last month, the prime minister reiterated his commitment to gay rights when he said he wanted to see gay marriage "exported" around the world.

On Tuesday evening, president Obama said he had "no patience" for countries, like Russia, that intimidate and harm individuals based on their sexual orientation.

"I think they understand that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics, we wouldn't tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently," he said.


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