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Ian McKellen, 27 Nobel laureates urge Putin to repeal anti-gay law

Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Joel Ryan, Invision/APIan McKellen

Joel Ryan, Invision/AP
Ian McKellen

LONDON — 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.

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“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.”

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20 more reader comments:

  1. I love you, Sir Ian McKellen!!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 1:55am
  2. I agree with Ian McKellen.Putin should repeal the anti-gay law but I think that Putin is to much like a bully

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 2:07am
  3. Magneto!!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 2:12am
  4. yea like thats going to convince him

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 2:15am
  5. Putin should learn not to meddle in the affairs of gay wizards….

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 2:27am
  6. I would Gladly Sign onto that Letter

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 2:28am
  7. This almost gave me a heart attack. When I saw his picture, I thought you were going to say that he was dead!!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 2:31am
  8. Being as that's how I always find out about celebrity deaths...facebook

    Replied on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 2:31am
  9. I did the same thing Sarah!

    Replied on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 4:10am
  10. same here o.o

    Replied on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 6:31am
  11. Is there no end to his awesomeness?

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 3:19am
  12. KISS OUR GRITS Vladimir Putin..AND BOYCOTT THE Sochi 2014 Winter Games AND Russia

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 3:19am
  13. Send Magneto and Gandalf over there and gayly forward their asses out!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 3:41am
  14. that’s great.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 3:58am
  15. Putin’s not much on intelligence!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 4:11am
  16. Fantastic person.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 4:57am
  17. Do you honestly think Putin gives a s**t what anyone thinks?

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 5:16am
  18. “Courage will now be your best defence against the storm that is at hand” – Gandalf in LOTR

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 6:33am
  19. Josef seems to have stumbled onto the wrong page…

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 9:05am
  20. Repeal and repent and appologize !

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 3:16pm