Stephen Fry, Hayley Wickenheiser speak against Russia's treatment of gays - Macleans.ca

Stephen Fry, Hayley Wickenheiser speak against Russia’s treatment of gays

Criticism mounts ahead of Sochi Olympics

by
Blindsided
Bob Strong/Reuters; Adrian Wyld/CP; Todd Korol/Reuters

Two more celebrities are adding their voices to the growing chorus of people speaking against Russia’s treatment of homosexuals in the lead up to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

British actor and author Stephen Fry penned a letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron and members of the International Olympic Committee, in which he urged them to ban the Olympics in Sochi. He posted the letter his website Wednesday morning.

In the letter, Fry draws parallels between Sochi 2014 and Germany’s treatment of Jews ahead of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which “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.”

“Putin is eerily repeating this insane crime, only this time against LGBT Russians,” Fry writes. “Beatings, murders and humiliations are ignored by the police. Any defence or sane discussion of homosexuality is against the law.”

Fry, who spoke against anti-gay laws in Russia before they were passed, goes on to call for a total ban of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.

“I am gay. I am a Jew. My mother lost over a dozen of her family to Hitler’s anti-Semitism. 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,” he writes.

In Canada, women’s hockey team captain Hayley Wickenheiser also spoke against Russia’s treatment of homosexuals, though she did not urge a ban of the Olympics.

Speaking to media during a break in training in Calgary, Wickenheiser, who will be playing in her sixth Olympics in Sochi, condemned a new Russian law, which fines anyone who presents “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.”

“I think most athletes in the free world think it’s wrong what Russia has done,” Wickenheiser said Tuesday, according to a Canadian Press report. “The Olympics is really one of the only places in the world where people should be free to get along and perform in harmony.

“It’s about acceptance so it kind of goes against everything that the Olympics are about. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”

Past and present Canadian Olympic athletes showed their solidarity with the LGBT community by participating in Toronto’s Pride Parade on June 30. Alpine skier Mike Janyk and snowboarder Mercedes Nicoll also participated in the Vancouver Pride Parade over the August long weekend.

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