Stephen Fry vs Russia

It’s going a little bit viral at the moment, so you may have seen it already. Stephen Fry, beloved British icon, has written an open letter to the Prime Minister and the members of the International Olympic Committee about banning the proposed Winter Olympics due to be in Russia in 2014.

Banning the Winter Olympics?! Must be a bloody good reason? Well there is. I admit, I was totally oblivious about this until I read it in his letter, and I won’t lie, I shed a tear over some of the content. Knowing that this is happening now, and not 90 years ago is horrifying.

The acts of people during the Nazi occupation of Germany, and now in Russia made me think, what right do any of us have to judge another person?

What Fry describes as happening to people as I sit here in my flat, listening to Mumford & Sons having just put up my laundry, having spent the morning in my church teaching children about the grace of God couldn’t seem further away. I sit here, in Wales, enjoying so many freedoms, that I don’t even think about. I’m here with no concerns that I might be beaten to death because of my beliefs. No fear for my friends who are gay, lesbian, bi or transgender. A safety that I have never questioned.

But in Russia, in Russia I would have the same fear that those in Nazi Germany had. Simply because one man is leading a thought that one type of person has to be blamed. For Hitler that person was a Jew. For Putin, that person is from the LGBT community. As Fry puts it, it’s a persecution of “a minority whose only crime was the accident of their birth”.

What right did Hitler have to say the Jews were lesser people than he, or anyone? What right does Putin have to suggest that anyone in the LGBT community is less human? In most civilised societies, we have pushed past the idea that being gay is wrong. The legalisation of gay marriage is becoming widespread. This is good news for humanity. But for this to happen, to allow history to repeat itself, which I understand is part of Fry’s argument, is a travesty. It’s not an evolution, it’s a devolution. We’ve taken three steps forward, why should we allow Putin to push us back ten steps?

The part of the letter that upset me was the following passage:

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.

I stand here with Fry, weeping for the individuals, for humanity and for those good men (and women) who stand by and allow this to happen. It happened before, and we stood back and allowed Hitler too much before we stepped in. Should we not learn? Fry has convinced me. We should stop the Winter Olympics from being hosted in a country that allows such widespread fear and death within their own borders.

The Olympics is something that brings the world together in sport. How can it be hosted by a country that rips people apart?

Feel like Stephen Fry has a point and you want to do something to help? Sign the petition here.

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