In a few days the Sochi Olympics will commence, as I spoke about in the What Would Brian Boitano Do? blogpost Russia has issues with the LGBT community click the link to read more about it.
But I’m not here to rehash that. I am here to post the open letter from Magneto, Sir Ian McKellan. The demand was formulated by Sir Harry and his friend Sir Ian McKellen, an influential spokesman for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights. This letter was given to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian people, given to The Independent by McKellen and 27 Nobel laureates, speaks out against the ban on “homosexual propaganda.”
Here’s the full letter from The Independent. (The bolded parts are from Sir Ian McKellen.)
On June 30th 2013, President Putin signed into Russian law a nationwide ban on the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors”. This inhibits the freedom of local and foreign Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people to speak openly about their sexuality and prohibits Gay Pride celebrations. Scientist Harold Kroto (HK) and actor Ian McKellen (IMcK), who have been friends since schooldays have formulated this open letter to Mr Putin and the People of Russia and garnered support for its sentiment from 27 Nobel Laureates. The letter is written to indicate that many senior members of the international scientific community show solidarity with politicians, artists, sports people and many others who have already expressed their abhorrence for the Russian Government’s actions against its gay citizens.
In my case (HK) I have had numerous invitations to Russia over the years and have much enjoyed the tremendous friendship of Russian scientists, whenever I have visited. I accepted an invitation some time ago to go to Russia in 2014 before this issue arose and although I have considered seriously cancelling my visit I have decided to go and while in Russia make my grave concerns clear at appropriate moments by pointing out that I shall not consider any further invitations unless this law is repealed or moves to repeal it are taken and in addition a serious effort is made by the Russian Government to ensure the safety of the Russian LGBT community. In my case (IMcK) I have been warned by the UK Foreign Office that in Russia I could not speak openly about my sexuality, at least in the hearing of anyone under the age of 18. I have therefore felt that I had to turn down invitations to attend Russian film festivals.
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. We are encouraged that our serious concerns may be considered by the pardons of imprisoned political activists which have recently been announced.
Harold Kroto (Nobel Chemistry 1996), Ian McKellen (aka Henry V/Gandalf), Mairead Maguire (Nobel Peace 1976), Eric Cornell (Nobel Physics 2001), Sheldon Glashow (Nobel Physics 1979), Brian Josephson (Nobel Physics 1973), Martin Perl (Nobel Physics 1995), Roald Hoffmann (Chemistry 1981), Gerhard Ertl (Chemistry 2007), Susumu Tonegawa (Physiology/Medicine 1987), Tony Leggett (Nobel Physics 2003), Dudley Herschbach (Nobel Chemistry 1986), Paul Nurse (Nobel Physiology/Medicine 2001), Robert Curl (Nobel Chemistry 1996), Martin Chalfie (Nobel Chemistry 2008), Richard Roberts (Nobel Physiology/Medicine 1993), John Polanyi (Nobel Chemistry 1986), Edmond Fischer (Nobel Physiology/Medicine 1992), Timothy Hunt (Nobel Physiology/Medicine 2001), Jack Szostak (Nobel Physiology/Medicine 2009), John Coetzee (Nobel Literature 2003), Eric Wieschaus (Nobel Physiology/Medicine 1995), Leon Lederman (Nobel Physics 1988), Peter Agre (Nobel Chemistry 2003), John Sulston (Nobel Physiology/Medicine 2002), Herta Müller (Nobel Literature 2009), Brian Schmidt (Nobel Physics 2011), Thomas Steitz (Nobel Chemistry 2009).
If you did NOT know, Sir Ian McKellen came out as a gay man in 1988. According to the website, McKellen.com
In 1988, he publicly came out as a gay man during a BBC Radio 3 discussion about the Thatcher government’s infamous “Section 28” of the Local Government Act, making illegal the public “promotion of homosexuality.” He overnight became an active member of the movement to change those UK laws which discriminate against lesbians and gay men. He is a co-founder of “Stonewall” which works for social and legal equality.
How difficult was it for you to come out of the closet when you did?
It was very easy, but I was 49 years old. I hadn’t given much thought about it before then, to tell you the truth. I was living very happily and openly as a gay man. It all happened in a bit of a rush when I decided to come out. I was angry because of a law that was anti-gay in the United Kingdom, and it was easier to come out in my indignation. When people are worrying about coming out, they’re worried about what other people will think, they’re worried about whether they’ll lose the love of their family. I’m involved in an organization which helps kids like that in the U.K. called Albert Kennedy Trust, and we have a lot of homeless kids thrown out by their parents. I do have a regret about coming out – I wish I had come out much earlier, but again, what can you do? You do what you can now.
Major props to
Magneto I mean Gandolf, err Sir Ian McKellen for speaking out about Russia’s anti-gay laws.