With just six months until the start of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, actor Stephen Fry is calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to institute an “absolute ban” on the games taking place in Russia next year.
In an open letter to U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, the IOC, and London 2012’s Lord Coe, Fry compared Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s crusade against the LGBT community to Adolf Hitler’s policies against Jews in Nazi Germany.
Fry, who is gay and Jewish, noted that his mother had lost a dozen family members during Hitler’s reign.
“[Putin] is making scapegoats of gay people, just as Hitler did Jews,” Fry wrote. “He cannot be allowed to get away with it.”
For Fry, assurance from the IOC that LGBT athletes and visitors won’t be affected by the Russian anti-gay legislation isn’t enough. Vitaly Molonov, the co-sponsor of the legislation, said in an interview that the government “has no right to suspend” the law, and athletes and visitors may actually be subject the anti-gay legislation.
After witnessing the “glory” that the London Olympics brought to the U.K. last year, Fry fears that hosting the Winter Olympics in Russia “would stain the movement forever and wipe away any of that glory.” He continued:
“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.”
Fry also personally appealed to the prime minister. While he has not agreed with Cameron’s political party’s policies over the years, he admired him for pushing LGBT rights and gay marriage through British Parliament.
In a statement to the BBC, the IOC said that while it respected Fry’s opinions, “sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual gender.”
“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,” a spokeswoman said.
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