In whats believed to be the largest gay rights protest in the UK capital in recent years. Almost one thousand people gathered in London on Saturday to protest against the human rights violations and sub-human treatment of LGBT people in Russia.
“Stephen Fry walked along the whole length of the protest like an ambassador, and everyone was cheering him,” said an eyewitness. Fry has called for an all out boycott of the Sochi Winter Olympics.
“Just remember that what this is about is not a big abstract thing like the Olympic movement, or a big abstract thing like the nature of totalitarianism, it’s keeping in the head the lesbian being savagely raped and being told by the police go take a walk because it’s not a crime, it’s a corrective thing to make you straight. These things happen daily in Russia; the teenagers being humiliated by their friends, punched and kicked and forced into suicide at an enormous rate. That’s what we have to remember this is all about, it’s about allowing the gay people of Russia to grow up free and proud and happy and with the genuine sense of importance they deserve.“
Putin is the ‘Czar of Homophobia’,” said longtime veteran gay rights activist Peter Tatchell “His regime has outlawed the public expression of LGBT identity and affection.”
A human rights campaigner who was at the demonstrations said that Saturday’s protest was just the beginning of a long fight for change.
In response to broadcaster Stephen Fry’s open letter, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Lord Coe, British Olympic Association chairman, have rejected Fry’s call for a boycott of the Sochi Games over Russia’s treatment of LGBT people.
Cameron – who recently supported equal marriage legislation against the wishes of a majority of his Conservative caucus – wrote on Twitter that “I believe we can better challenge prejudice as we attend, rather than [boycott] the Winter Olympics.”
Former Olympian Lord Coe, meanwhile, noted that Britain did not join the American boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games, at which Coe won gold. “[Boycotts] damage only one group of people and that is the athletes,” the British Olympic chief said. Coe made his comments at the World Athletics Championships, coincidentally held in Moscow.
Cameron’s and Coe’s statements come one day before hundreds of Londoners gathered near the Prime Minister’s official residence in Downing Street to protest Russian’s anti-gay “propaganda” laws. Speaking at the protest, Fry accepted that a boycott of the Sochi games was unlikely but called on athletics to make a public gesture of solidarity at the Games to “take the sweetness of victory out of Putin’s mouth.”
Russia has earned scorn from international leaders over new federal legislation banning distribution of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors” and failing to stop numerous violent attacks on LGBT activists in recent months.
“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. ‘All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,’ so wrote Edmund Burke. Are you, the men and women of the IOC going to be those ‘good’ who allow evil to triumph? The Summer Olympics of 2012 were one of the most glorious moments of my life and the life of my country. For there to be a Russian Winter Olympics would stain the movement forever and wipe away any of that glory. The Five Rings would finally be forever smeared, besmirched and ruined in the eyes of the civilised world.” – Stephen Fry, in an open letter to the IOC and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Fry’s arguments are based on both history and humanity.
So powerfully written. Everyone both gay and straight should read the full letter.