Russia Winter Olympics: George Takei, Stephen Fry, More Urge Ban Over Anti-Gay Laws

Advocates call for International Olympic Committee to strip the country of the Games following new legislation on homosexuality

By Alexis L. Loinaz Aug 08, 2013 12:37 PMTags
George Takei, Stephen FryTim P. Whitby/Getty Images, Monica Schipper/Getty Images

Russia isn't winning any medals for its stance on homosexuality.

Gay-rights activists, including George Takei and Stephen Fry, are publicly calling for a ban on the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi over the country's anti-gay laws.

Under new legislation passed in June, Russia has made it illegal to provide information about homosexuality to people under the age of 18 in an effort to curtail a "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations," and Russia's sports minister has said that the government plans to enforce the law during the Olympics.


Protesters are now urging the International Olympic Committee to strip Russia of the Games and move it to another city.

In a scathing blog post titled "Sochi: Winter of Hate," Takei decried Russia's "draconian gay propaganda law," adding that "with Russia's confirmation that it will enforce its law, our LGBT athletes are in real danger, and their safety must be paramount."

"Nations are not judged merely on their might, but also by how they treat their most vulnerable," Takei writes. "Russia's cynical and deplorable actions against the LGBT community have given license to hate groups within its borders to act with violence and impunity against a group, based solely on whom they were born to love."

The former Star Trek actor also appeared on MSNBC's The Last Word Wednesday, where he told host Lawrence O'Donnell: "The clock is ticking. However, we must get [the Olympics] out of Russia—it is an intolerable situation."

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Meanwhile, British actor Fry has penned his own appeal to the IOC calling for it to relocate the Games elsewhere.

"It is simply not enough to say that gay Olympians may or may not be safe in their village," he writes. "An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 on Sochi is simply essential. Stage them elsewhere in Utah, Lilyhammer, anywhere you like. At all costs [Vladimir] Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world."

Fry goes on to denounce the Russian president, claiming that he "is making scapegoats of gay people, just as Hitler did Jews."

The two actors join a swelling wave of protesters who have spoken out against Russian's anti-gay laws.

Oscar-winning Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black has written a passionate essay in The Hollywood Reporter calling for readers to take a stand against Putin, and Hairspray star Harvey Fierstein penned a New York Times op-ed in which he said that "American and world leaders must speak out against Mr. Putin's attacks and the violence they foster."

President Barack Obama himself weighed in on the issue during a sit-down with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show Tuesday.

"I think Putin and Russia have a big stake in making sure the Olympics work," he said. "And I think they understand that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics, that we wouldn't tolerate gays and lesbians being treated any differently."