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Ian McKellen Cowrites Open Letter Protesting Russia's Anti-Gay Law Ahead of Sochi Olympics

Ian McKellen Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Ian McKellen's doctorates may be of the honorary variety, but he and some of the world's other brightest minds are on exactly the same page when it comes to inequality in Russia.

The Lord of the Rings star has joined 27 Nobel laureates in composing an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin communicating their objection to a fairly new law prohibiting "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors." 

McKellen, who awesomely cited his bona fides as "aka Gandalf/Henry V" alongside the likes of author J.M. Coetzee (Nobel Literature 2003) and Martin Perl (Nobel Physics 1995), had previously expressed his disappointment via Facebook that the Sochi Olympics would be going along as scheduled despite gay athletes being "only welcome if they bring their closets with them."

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But McKellen and friend Sir Harry Kroto (Nobel Chemistry 1996) opted to go a step further this time, enlisting their fellow intellectuals to add their signatures to their letter, printed by London's Independent newspaper, "to indicate that many senior members of the international scientific community show solidarity with politicians, artists, sports people and many others who have already expressed their abhorrence for the Russian Government's actions against its gay citizens."

"In my case," read a part attributed to McKellen, "I have been warned by the UK Foreign Office that in Russia I could not speak openly about my sexuality, at least in the hearing of anyone under the age of 18. I have therefore felt that I had to turn down invitations to attend Russian film festivals."

Kroto wrote that he long ago accepted an invitation to visit Russia in 2014, but after he fulfills that obligation, "I shall not consider any further invitations unless this law is repealed or moves to repeal it are taken and in addition a serious effort is made by the Russian Government to ensure the safety of the Russian LGBT community."

Celebs including Kristen Bell, Madonna and Jonah Hill have also spoken (or tweeted) out against the Russian law, and George Takei and Stephen Fry publicly called for a ban on the upcoming Winter Games.

President Barack Obama selected a U.S. delegation for the Olympics that, no coincidence, includes openly gay athletes Billy Jean King, Caitlin Cahow and Brian Boitano.

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