Insulted Russians hoping for an apology from Hugh Laurie over his call to boycott their “oven cleaner” vodka could be waiting some time.
The House actor has refused to say sorry for his rallying call to stop buying the national beverage following President Vladimir Putin’s recent comments that gay people would be welcome in Russia during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics providing they “leave the children in peace”.
His comments didn’t go unnoticed and quickly came under fire.
Taking to Twitter, Laurie initially posted:
I'd boycott Russian goods if I could think of a single thing they made besides the rest of the world depressed.Hugh Laurie (@hughlaurie) January 18, 2014
Yes, alright, Russian vodka is ok if you need to clean the oven. For drinking, it must henceforth be Polish.Hugh Laurie (@hughlaurie) January 18, 2014
Russian sports journalist called Stepan Chaushyan went as far as to swap the ban on Russian vodka for a ban on Hugh Laurie.
"Hugh forgot one thing: Russian money could very easily boycott him," he wrote.
The A-list opposing Russia's anti-gay laws
The A-list opposing Russia's anti-gay laws
1/15 When Madonna performed in Russia, she took to the stage with the words "No Fear" scrawled across her back. "Show your love and appreciation to the gay community," she urged her audience.
2/15 "In solidarity. From Russia with love," Tilda Swinton posted alongside this photograph of her holding a rainbow flag in support of the LGBT community outside the Kremlin in Moscow.
3/15 "As a gay man, I can’t leave those people on their own without going over there and supporting them," Elton John said ahead of his boycotted string of shows in Russia in 2013. "I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’ve got to go."
4/15 "The Russian government is criminal," Lady Gaga tweeted in August. "Oppression will be met with revolution. Russian LGBTs you are not alone. We will fight for your freedom." She later noted: "Sending bravery to LGBTs in Russia. The rise in government abuse is archaic. Hosing teenagers with pepper spray? Beatings? Mother Russia?"
5/15 "I think we should do more than just send gay Olympians there," the Star Trek actor said in a recent interview. ''What's happening there in terms of gay rights or the lack of it is extraordinary and awful."
6/15 Gay Star Trek actor George Takei that 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."
7/15 Prisonbreak star Wentworth Miller publicly came out in an open letter to Russia regarding its anti-gay laws. "I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government," he wrote, turning down an invitation to a Russian film festival. "The situation is in no way acceptable, and I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly."
8/15 Jamie Lee Curtis was one of many celebrities who joined the 'Love Conquers Hate' T-shirt initiative, lauched by the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay rights activist group in the US.
9/15 Kevin Bacon also joined the 'Love Conquers Hate' initiative."We stand with Russia's LGBT community and their allies," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "We are committed to doing as much as we possibly can to support their efforts to repeal this heinous law."
10/15 “I'd boycott Russian goods if I could think of a single thing they made besides the rest of the world depressed," Hugh Laurie posted on Twitter in January 2014.
11/15 "I can’t name names but my friend called who is a big oligarch over there, and asked me if I’d like to be an ambassador for the Olympics and open the show," Cher told Maclean's writer Elio Iannacci. "I immediately said no. I want to know why all of this gay hate just exploded over there."
12/15 Putin "is making scapegoats of gay people, just as Hitler did Jews," Stephen Fry warned in his appeal to the IOC.
13/15 "For real: Tell Russia & the @Olympics that #LoveConquersHate. Join @HRC and share your pic. #Sochi14," actress Kristen Bell tweeted, promoting her gay rights advocacy T-shirt scheme.
14/15 "Help us show Russia & the world that #LoveConquersHate," Wolf of Wall Street star Jonah Hill tweeted as part of the same campaign alongside a picture of himself wearing the T-shirt.
15/15 Grammy-winning singer Melissa Etheridge released a song, “Uprising of Love”, in support of the Russian LGBT community, and partnered with Bruce Cohen to launch a coalition of celebrities and influential public figures, too.
Russian NTV state television channel commentator Savva Mirosh was similarly unnerved.
"That's right, go ahead and boycott us, but you'll have to start with gas, not vodka," she spat.
But Laurie won respect from LGBT campaigners in Russia, too.
"With what irony and how correctly he noted everything. Thank you Hugh," Matvei Alexandrov wrote in a post on the Gay.ru website.
Since then, Laurie posted a "retraction", calling instead for "good, kind Russians to stand up to the slab-faced goons who deal in this kind of poison."
He followed news about the boycott in the media today with another post, this time stating he has no intention of apologising for his statements:
I make no apology. Not any more. All my apologies come from a company in Eastbourne, Sorry Solutions. Passively Aggressing since 2009.Hugh Laurie (@hughlaurie) January 22, 2014
Laurie’s comments come after President Putin turned on the charm for a special televised interview with Andrew Marr on the BBC ahead of Sochi 2014.
Putin has gone to lengths to tell those attending that the anti-gay laws are “no danger” to them. He then implied the nation needed to “clean up” homosexuality in order to drive up Russian birth rate.
"Read our law carefully – it’s called ‘a ban on the propaganda of paedophilia and homosexuality," he said, before adding: "But this is nothing to do with persecuting individuals for their sexual orientation.
"It seems to me that the law we adopted doesn’t harm anybody. What’s more, homosexual people can’t feel inferior here because there is no professional career or social discrimination against them.
"When they achieve great success [they are honoured] – for example Elton John is a extraordinary person, a distinguished musician, and millions of our people sincerely love him, regardless of his sexual orientation."
He managed to sidestep Marr’s question of whether he thought gay people were born or made, instead giving his personal opinion on homosexuality – and admitting he was even on "friendly terms" with a few gay people himself.
"If you want my personal attitude, I would tell you that I don’t care about a person’s sexual orientation," he said.
"I myself know some people who are gay – we are on friendly terms. I am not prejudiced in any way."