Nobel laureates join call for repeal of gay law

2014-01-14 20:11
A Russian gay rights activist holds a poster protesting against homophobia.  (File, AFP)

A Russian gay rights activist holds a poster protesting against homophobia. (File, AFP)

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London - Twenty-seven Nobel laureates from the fields of science and the arts have called on Russia to repeal recent anti-gay legislation, in an open letter published in Britain's Independent newspaper on Tuesday.

"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," it said.

The letter was drawn up by Nobel prize-winning chemist Harold Kroto and his schoolfriend Ian McKellen, the British actor known for his outspoken defence of gay rights.

The signatories are mainly winners of Nobel prizes for physics, chemistry and physiology / medicine, but also include writers JM Coetzee and Herta Mueller and peace prize winner Mairead Maguire.

"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 [former Russian leader] Mikhail Gorbachev worked so hard to achieve," they said.

"We are encouraged that our serious concerns may be considered by the pardons of imprisoned political activists which have recently been announced."

President Vladimir Putin pardoned prominent Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky and members of the protest punk band Pussy Riot in December.

Gay rights activists around the world have called for a boycott of the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia starting next month in protest against a law banning dissemination of so-called "gay propaganda" to minors.

Campaigners fear the legislation, signed off in June, could be used for a broad crackdown on gay people.

Read more on:    russia  |  gay rights
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