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Nobel Laureates Urge Putin to Abolish Anti-Gay Law

Published: January 15, 2014 (Issue # 1793)



  • Sir Ian McKellen waving a rainbow flag.
    Photo: Pete Birkinshaw / Flickr.com

LONDON (AP) — Actor Ian McKellen and 27 Nobel laureates have written an open letter urging Russia's president to repeal an anti-gay law and expressing their solidarity with critics of the legislation.

The letter — published Tuesday by the Independent newspaper — comes in the run-up to the Sochi Olympics, which have been the focus of a backlash in the West regarding the law.

Passed last year, Russia's law bans promotion of "non-traditional sexual relations" to minors and has prompted calls by gay activists and others for a boycott of the games, which begin Feb. 7.

McKellan — known to millions as Gandalf in the "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" films — wrote the letter with his friend, chemist Harold Kroto.

They said the letter was written to show the scientific community's "solidarity" with politicians, artists, athletes and others who have already "expressed their abhorrence" over Russia's actions toward its gay citizens.

"Protest is never easy, but we hope that by expressing opposition to the new legislation it might be possible to encourage the Russian state to embrace the 21st century humanitarian, political and inclusive democratic principles, which Mikhail Gorbachev worked so hard to achieve," they said in the letter.

It is signed by 27 laureates, including 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire, 2009 literature prize winner Herta Muller, 2003 chemistry prize winner Peter Agre, and Thomas Steitz, who took the 2009 chemistry prize. Beside his name, McKellan put "aka Henry V/Gandalf."

It is not the first time McKellen, who is openly gay, has spoken out about the law.

Last month, the 74-year-old actor said the British government advised him not to go to Russia, and he expressed disbelief about the law's application "in the land of Tchaikovsky, Diaghilev, Rudolf Nureyev — gay artists whose sexuality informed their work."

See also:

Celebrities Endorse Petitions to Move Olympics

U.S. Actor Comes Out, Rejects Invite to St. Pete Film Festival





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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