The Russian politician who sparked a furore by suggesting homosexual athletes and supporters could face arrest at the country’s upcoming Winter Olympic Games has branded gay actor and LGBT supporter Stephen Fry “sick”.
Vitaly Milonov has warned that Russia’s new “gay propaganda ban” can not be selectively enforced or suspended during the event in Sochi in 2014.
Among a wave of protests was a viral blog from Stephen Fry, urging for Russia to be stripped of the event.
However Prime Minister David Cameron has rejected Fry's plea for Britain to boycott the games, tweeting "I believe we can better challenge prejudice as we attend, rather than boycotting the Winter Olympics" in response.
Speaking on BBC Radio5 Live, Milonov said: “Who is this Stephen Fry? I know because he is sick person because he tried to commit suicide as far as I can remember.”
Earlier this year Fry, who has spoken openly about his depression, revealed he had attempted suicide while filming abroad in 2012.
In the same interview, Milonov appeared to liken homosexuality to bestiality.
He said: “It is a shame and it is a sin but it is a personal choice. It is not normal but a person cannot be punished in Russia for being homosexual, or to live with a dog, with a horse, with a sheep, whatever.”
When asked if he was intending to make that link, he replied: “Homosexuality is one of the sins for us and it means we should not teach our kids that sin is okay.”
Milonov made his comments after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) claimed the Russian government has given assurances as to the safety of athletes and supporters, regardless of their sexual orientation.
In an interview with Interfax news agency last month, Milonov, who co-sponsored the bill against “non-traditional relationships”, said: “I haven’t heard any comments from the government of the Russian Federation, but I know that it is acting in accordance with Russian law.
“And if a law has been approved by the federal legislature and signed by the president, then the government has no right to suspend it. It doesn’t have the authority.”
He added he had “spoken with many American politicians” and that they “support the stance I’ve taken on this issue.”
The “gay propaganda” ban was enacted in June and essentially bans displays of homosexuality. It is also “illegal to spread information about non-traditional sexual behaviour” to minors (under 18s).
Signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, the legislation gives the Russian government the right to detain gay or “pro-gay” foreigners up to 14 days before facing expulsion from the country.