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Big debate: Should the UK boycott the Winter Olympics in Russia?

PUBLISHED: 12:00 24 August 2013

Stephen Fry who met the prime minister at The Grapes in Limehouse to discuss gay rights in Russia

Stephen Fry who met the prime minister at The Grapes in Limehouse to discuss gay rights in Russia

PA Wire/Press Association Images

After Stephen Fry and David Cameron met at The Grapes in Limehouse to discuss gay rights in Russia, we asked whether the UK should heed Mr Fry’s call to boycott the Winter Olympics next year.

Actor and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activist Stephen Fry:

I write in the earnest hope that all those with a love of sport and the Olympic spirit will consider the stain on the Five Rings that occurred when the 1936 Berlin Olympics proceeded under the exultant aegis of a tyrant who had passed into law, two years earlier, an act which singled out for special persecution a minority whose only crime was the accident of their birth. In his case he banned Jews from academic tenure or public office, he made sure that the police turned a blind eye to any beatings, thefts or humiliations inflicted on them, he burned and banned books written by them.

Putin is eerily repeating this insane crime, only this time against LGBT Russians. Beatings, murders and humiliations are ignored by the police. Any defence or sane discussion of homosexuality is against the law. It is simply not enough to say that gay Olympians may or may not be safe in their village. The IOC absolutely must take a firm stance.

An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 on Sochi is simply essential. Stage them elsewhere in Utah, Lillehammer, anywhere you like. At all costs Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world.

He is making scapegoats of gay people, just as Hitler did Jews. He cannot be allowed to get away with it. I know whereof I speak.

He may claim that the “values” of Russia are not the “values” of the West, but this is absolutely in opposition to Peter the Great’s philosophy, and against the hopes of millions of Russians, those not in the grip of that toxic mix of shaven headed thuggery and bigoted religion, those who are agonised by the rolling back of democracy and the formation of a new autocracy in the motherland that has suffered so much (and whose music, literature and drama, incidentally I love so passionately).

I am gay. I am a Jew. My mother lost over a dozen of her family to Hitler’s anti-Semitism. Every time in Russia (and it is constantly) a gay teenager is forced into suicide, a lesbian “correctively” raped, gay men and women beaten to death by neo-Nazi thugs while the Russian police stand idly by, the world is diminished and I for one, weep anew at seeing history repeat itself.

Peter Golds is a Tower Hamlets Councillor, Arsenal Season Ticket Holder and a Member of the Gay Football Supporters Network.

The greatest triumph of the infamous 1936 Berlin Olympics was the African American athlete Jesse Owens winning four gold medals. However, back home it was forty years before President Gerald Ford invited the legendary athlete to the White House. The US boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics followed by the Soviet boycott of the Los Angeles Olympics four years later achieved nothing, except r disappointment for the athletes who had trained long and hard for their chance of Olympic success.

That is why Gay figure skater, Johnny Weir is going to the Sochi Olympics. I hope he wins and the world see Johnny wave his gold medal in the faces of homophobes across the globe.

However unpleasant the government of Vladimir Putin is, there are no extermination camps, death marches and the other attributes of mass murder perfected by the Nazis. Indeed by trying to compare Putin with Hitler, the crimes of Hitler end up being diluted.

Where would the 2014 Winter Olympics go? Mormon Utah?

David Cameron is correct on this, as are Gay Olympic diver Greg Loughanis and Lesbian Tennis player Rennae Stubbs, both of whom say that the games should stay in Sochi.

When David Cameron and Stephen Fry discussed sport in Tower Hamlets, perhaps they should have considered why I can count just four out Lesbian and Gay British sportspeople; boxer Nicola Adams, equestrian Carl Hester, cricketer Steve Davies and rugby player Gareth Thomas. There are actually more gay Conservative MPs representing constituencies in the north of England than this and politicians, opinion formers and activists need perhaps to consider why gays in sport nearer home remain so silent.

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