Protests outside Downing Street, as David Cameron rejects Stephen Fry's call for a ban on Russia hosting the Winter Olympics

QI presenter - likened Putin's anti-gay laws to Nazi discrimination - prostested outside Downing Street

David Cameron has personally rejected Stephen Fry's call for a ban on Russia hosting the Winter Olympics.

The call came after a wave of attacks on young gay men across the country, sparked by Vladimir Putin's homophobic laws.

But the Prime Minister said that while he shares the much-loved broadcaster's "deep concern" about gay rights in the country, he thinks anti-gay prejudice will be better tackled by Team GB attending the event.

Earlier this week Mr Fry wrote to Mr Cameron, the head of International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge, and Lord Coe asking them to back a ban on the 2014 Winter Games being held in Sochi.

He wrote: “The IOC must take a firm stance on behalf of the shared humanity it is supposed to represent against the barbaric, fascist law that Putin has pushed through.

“An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 on Sochi is simply essential. Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world.”

Today Mr Cameron tweeted: "I share your deep concern about the abuse of gay people in Russia. However, I believe we can better challenge prejudice as we attend, rather than boycotting the Winter Olympics."

Mr Fry has likened the Sochi Games to those held in Berlin under Nazi Germany, a comparison he repeated in response to Cameron's tweet.

Today he protested on the issue, along with hundreds of others, outside Downing Street. He told reporters: "What they have done is unleashed thugs who have done unspeakable things to teenagers, lured them, beaten them, humiliated them, tortured them. This continues to be the case.

"Lesbians have been raped 'correctively' - as the horrible phrase is. The police are doing nothing about it.

"The fact that the law says it is illegal to discuss homosexuality as a normal practice to anybody under the age of 18 is a preposterous thing."

In the orginal letter, he wrote: “I am gay. I am a Jew. My mother lost over a dozen of her family to Hitler's anti-Semitism. I for one, weep at seeing history repeat itself.”

Mr Fry was backed by Labour peer and businessman Lord Alli, who helped mastermind the recent successful gay marriage law in the UK, who said: “I am completely supportive of Stephen's letter."

“The thought that the Olympic spirit should be sullied by the homophobic values of the current Russian leadership should be offensive to all of us.

”I hope this country will take a lead in convincing  President Putin to reject the brutal treatment of gay men and women and treat people equally which should be at the heart of modern Russian culture.“

Stephen Fry has spoken out against Russia hosting the Games Stephen Fry has spoken out against Russia hosting the Games  

Russia's sports minister Vitaly Mutk has previously suggested that any athlete who starts to ”propagandise“ on the issue will be ”held accountable“.

Downing Street has claimed Mr Cameron raised the issue directly with President Putin.

”We are working closely with the IOC and the British Olympic Association to ensure that the Games take place in the spirit of the Olympic Charter and are free from discrimination,“ said a spokesman.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visits the Adler-Arena Skating Center Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visits the Adler-Arena Skating Center

The international concern over gay rights in Russia follows the passage of a law imposing heavy fines for anyone providing information about homosexuality to people under 18.

Since then there have been a number of reports of young gay men being lured into meeting strangers and then being attacked or publicly humiliated.

Videos are often circulated of the victims being made to come out as gay, with a view to parents, schools, or friends finding out about their sexuality.

One young man who was pictured on Russian social media being stripped and humiliated by a group of men was allegedly later tortured and died from his injuries.

Gay rights groups claim police have turned a blind eye to the attacks.

Darryl Seibel, a spokesperson for the British Olympic Association said: “We are monitoring the situation closely. Some of the recent comments from officials in Russia have been contradictory, so we are relying upon the IOC to provide us with the factual information we need in our preparation for the Games.  We know this is a priority for the IOC.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
News
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower