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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

Wednesday, Aug. 20


AmCham gets back to business after a summer hiatus with todays EHS Committee Working Group Meeting. Check their website for more details.



Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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