The author, comedian and activist says Russia should be stripped of its right to hold the games over its passing of anti-LGBT laws, which criminalise those who engage in “gay propaganda.”
August 10, 2013
There have been calls for the games to be moved from the country over the passing of measures, signed into law by Vladimir Putin, which criminalise the dissemination of information about homosexuality to minors.
The laws introduce fines of up to 5,000 rubles (€113) for citizens who engage in “gay propaganda,” and critics fear the measures could legitimize homophobia.
The bill has sparked controversy ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, and raised concerns that visiting gay athletes and spectators could face discrimination or even legal action.
In a passionate open letter on the issue, Fry compares Putin’s treatment of the LGBT community to Hitler’s treatment of Jews in 1930s Germany, and calls for the games to be moved to “Utah, Lillyhammer” or “anywhere you like”.
The full letter – addressed to Prime Minister David Cameron, President of the International Olympics Committee Jacques Rogge, British Olympic Association boss Sebastian Coe and other members of the IOC – is republished below in full…
Dear Prime Minister, M Rogge, Lord Coe and Members of the International Olympic Committee,
I write in the earnest hope that all those with a love of sport and the Olympic spirit will consider the stain on the Five Rings that occurred when the 1936 Berlin Olympics proceeded under the exultant aegis of a tyrant who had passed into law, two years earlier, an act which singled out for special persecution a minority whose only crime was the accident of their birth. In his case he banned Jews from academic tenure or public office, he made sure that the police turned a blind eye to any beatings, thefts or humiliations afflicted on them, he burned and banned books written by them. He claimed they “polluted” the purity and tradition of what it was to be German, that they were a threat to the state, to the children and the future of the Reich. He blamed them simultaneously for the mutually exclusive crimes of Communism and for the controlling of international capital and banks. He blamed them for ruining the culture with their liberalism and difference. The Olympic movement at that time paid precisely no attention to this evil and proceeded with the notorious Berlin Olympiad, which provided a stage for a gleeful Führer and only increased his status at home and abroad. It gave him confidence. All historians are agreed on that. What he did with that confidence we all know. Putin is eerily repeating this insane crime, only this time against LGBT Russians. Beatings, murders and humiliations are ignored by the police. Any defence or sane discussion of homosexuality is against the law. Any statement, for example, that Tchaikovsky was gay and that his art and life reflects this sexuality and are an inspiration to other gay artists would be punishable by imprisonment. It is simply not enough to say that gay Olympians may or may not be safe in their village. The IOC absolutely must take a firm stance on behalf of the shared humanity it is supposed to represent against the barbaric, fascist law that Putin has pushed through the Duma. Let us not forget that Olympic events used not only to be athletic, they used to include cultural competitions. Let us realise that in fact, sport is cultural. It does not exist in a bubble outside society or politics. The idea that sport and politics don’t connect is worse than disingenuous, worse than stupid. It is wickedly, wilfully wrong. Everyone knows politics interconnects with everything for “politics” is simply the Greek for “to do with the people”.