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
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
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.”
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