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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





 


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Sunday, Apr. 20


Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianity’s holiest day.


Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti — Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the desert’s most iconic plant.


Monday, Apr. 21


Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDA’s Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.


Tuesday, Apr. 22


SPIBA’s Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.


The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.