Calls are growing for a boycott of next year’s Winter Olympics in Russia in protest at what campaigners have called its “barbaric” new homophobic laws.
Broadcaster Stephen Fry has appealed directly to David Cameron and members of the International Olympic Committee [IOC] to stop the games being held in Russia, comparing Vladimir Putin’s treatment of gay people to Adolf Hitler’s treatment of Jews.
He said allowing the games to go ahead in Putin’s Russia would be comparable to the decision to hold the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany.
Four-time Olympic champion diver Greg Louganis yesterday delivered a 320,000 signature petition to IOC headquarters in Switzerland, urging it to condemn Russia’s “anti-gay laws”.
US President Barack Obama said earlier this week: “I think they [Putin and Russia] understand that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics, we wouldn’t tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently.”
Asked by TV host Jay Leno whether this was “like Germany: let’s round up the Jews, let’s round up the gays,” President Obama replied: “I have no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in a way that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”
The White House later cancelled a planned meeting with President Putin in Moscow, primarily over Russia’s decision to grant whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum, but also citing a lack of progress on human rights among a number of issues of concern.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin signed a new bill into law in June banning “homosexual propaganda” – making it illegal to give anyone under 18 information about homosexuality.
Anyone deemed to be promoting gay rights, or “non-traditional relationships” to young people in Russia could now be arrested and fined, or in the case of foreigners, detained and deported.