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Ian McKellen says British government told him not to go to Russia

Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Joel Ryan Invision/APIan McKellen

Joel Ryan Invision/AP
Ian McKellen

LONDON — Actor Ian McKellen says the British government has advised him not to go to Russia because of the country’s anti-gay “propaganda” law.

McKellen, known to millions as Gandalf in the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” films, told Radio Times magazine that the Foreign Office had informed him “they couldn’t protect me from those laws.”

The openly gay 74-year-old actor expressed disbelief that this was the case “in the land of Tchaikovsky, Diaghilev, Rudolf Nureyev – gay artists whose sexuality informed their work.”

Russia has banned “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” aimed at anyone under 18. Penalties include fines and jail.

The Foreign Office said Tuesday that prospective travelers should decide whether to visit Russia based on its official advice, which notes “a degree of intolerance” of homosexuality in Russia.

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40 more reader comments:

  1. he knows his celebrity status and wealth protects him.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 4:20pm
  2. in Russia wealth imprisons you!

    Replied on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 5:07am
  3. !!!WOW!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 4:24pm
  4. Do It Gandalf!
    They’re no match for the White Wizard!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 4:25pm
  5. He should say to Russia, "You shall not pass!"

    Replied on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 4:34pm
  6. & if it all ends badly "Fly you fools"

    Replied on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 4:35pm
  7. I love you guys. :'). BEST REFERENCE EVER!

    Replied on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 8:09pm
  8. It must be nice to be an elite.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 4:29pm
  9. BRAVO Ian McKellen for using your status to stand up against oppression

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 4:30pm
  10. I have only one thing to say. If Russia puts Ian in jail for being gay… Vladimir is dead. He is SOOO dead.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 4:31pm
  11. What are you going to do? Kill him with kindness?

    Replied on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 9:57pm
  12. You better believe it. XD LOL

    Replied on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 10:09pm
  13. He looks like Tom Hanks in 30 years

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 4:46pm
  14. I think as many of us who have the means, the courage, and the public visibility to go and speak out should do so. Our brothers and sisters in Russia (and in Africa) need us to speak up for them so that they will have the courage to speak up for themselves too.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 4:53pm
  15. Folks the Russian Federation ,like many places in Eastern Europe,teaming with Orthodox Christian fundies but the worst ones will be the Islamic Orthodox lunatics,their actions can be quite dangerous and they are the majority in countries whose ancestral cultures have been replaced by Islamic monotheism,instead of Christian Ortodoxy.I hope Sir Elton John (and Sir Paul McCartney) give up their idea of going to Kazan (Tatar Republic) for this reason,they´ve already been warned of such threats by the radicals.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 5:01pm
  16. Does anyone see a parallel with Thatcher’s Tories, South Africa and Apartheid? The British government told him NOT to go to Russia INSTEAD of threatening sanctions?

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 5:05pm
  17. Smart Move !

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 5:06pm
  18. *unlike* I hope this will be the start of the British authorities awareness that this discrimination outweighs the propaganda of the games…

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 5:10pm
  19. YOU SHALL NOT PASS

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 5:19pm
  20. Ian McKellen should donate to GayRussia for their legal defense fund & LGBTQ Nation should tell everyone to go to PayPal & donate to moscowpride (at) yahoo.com instead of changing the subject from gay bashing pogroms in Russia to Ian McKellen

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 5:27pm
  21. All I ask is for the Olympic community to remember this in the choice of hosts of future games. These games are for all, not just straight people.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 5:50pm
  22. Sometimes I think the best thing we could do is all pile on the bus and pay those nice folks a visit. A very angry visit.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 6:06pm
  23. If countries want to avoid all uncontrolled contact and potential cultural friction with other peoples/demographics (including their own), then seeking to host large international events in the first place is an illogical PR idea, whose global benefits are easily chilled by ongoing hypocrisy, bigotry and persecutions. One cannot credibly be both closed and open to the rest of reality – and news and analysis of international actions both travel swiftly to bring consequence.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 6:13pm
  24. Vlad for killing innocent ppl should be already dead BIG fecking time

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 6:28pm
  25. The British government has closet issues.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 6:36pm
  26. Ridiculous fight the power Ian :)

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 6:43pm
  27. Guys if you ever come to England.. I live where jrr Tolkien is from I will take you to the real prancing pony pub x

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 6:55pm
  28. Like they could really hold him anyway — those prisons have too much iron.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 7:04pm
  29. :(

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 7:09pm
  30. I think these Olympics are really going to be a test! If Ian McKellen goes I only wish him the best of luck for his safety. Who knows what will happen in Russia?!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 7:28pm
  31. i dont think the russian government would dare lay a finger on magneto

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 7:32pm
  32. Protest against Russia’s anti gay propaganda laws? Does anybody remember the Conservative Party’ s own Section 28?

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 7:42pm
  33. I think every gay person and their friends should go and overwheln the JAILS…..

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 7:58pm
  34. I may look the other way if putin dies if he lays a hand on gandalf.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 8:49pm
  35. I wouldn’t if I were him.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 10:35pm
  36. Spend your money in a worthy place.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 10:52pm
  37. No honey, stay at home right now

    Posted on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 1:32am
  38. good, I wouldn’t go anyway

    Posted on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 2:51am
  39. yes hes HAS power and fame,dog help all the other who dont

    Posted on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 4:09am
  40. you’d be arrest Sir Ian, and we need you in the fight not behind bars.

    Posted on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 5:06am