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Popular Topics in The Arts
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Topics In the News
Harvey Fierstein Urges Boycott of Russian Olympics
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 07/22/13
Last updated on: 07/26/13
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Harvey Fierstein.

In a New York Times op-ed, playwright, actor, and beloved activist Harvey Fierstein asserts that Russian president Vladimir Putin has "declared war on homosexuals" and that so far the world has been mostly silent. He details the deplorable conditions for glbtq people in Russia, including an increase in violence directed toward people suspected of being gay, and forcefully calls for a boycott of the Winter Games scheduled for Sochi in 2014.

Fierstein's article, which should be read in its entirety, comes just as Russian authorities have arrested the first tourists under its vicious new law prohibiting "gay propaganda."

As Gay Star News reports, four Dutch citizens, including Kris van der Veen, chairman of the foundation KGBT Groningen, which campaigns for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights, were arrested on July 21 in Murmansk for violating "the law of 'non-traditional sexual relations' propaganda among children,' which was signed into law by President Vladimir Putin last month."

This repugnant law is but one among many homophobic actions recently taken by Putin and his government.

Putin's motive for his campaign against glbtq rights is, Fierstein points out, to scapegoat gay people in order to solidify his base "and draw attention away from [his] failing policies": "Counting on the natural backlash against the success of marriage equality around the world and recruiting support from conservative religious organizations, Mr. Putin has sallied forth into this battle, figuring that the only opposition he will face will come from the left, his favorite boogeyman."

"Mr. Putin's campaign against lesbian, gay and bisexual people," Fierstein continues, "is one of distraction, a strategy of demonizing a minority for political gain taken straight from the Nazi playbook."

Fierstein concludes his op-ed by calling upon American and world leaders to denounce "Putin's attacks and the violence they foster. The Olympic Committee must demand the retraction of these laws under threat of boycott."

Earlier this month openly gay Olympian Blake Skjellerup, who competed in speed skating for New Zealand in the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, also spoke out against the Russian law. As Towleroad reported, Skjellerup denounced the law as a major step backwards for human rights and criticized the failure of Olympic officials to react forcefully against it. He also pledged to wear a rainbow pin if he is selected to compete in 2014.

In the video below, Skjellerup speaks about the Russian law and also about the fact that the Sochi Olympics will, unlike other recent Olympics, not have a Pride House for glbtq athletes.

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