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Strip Russia of Olympics over ‘barbaric’ anti-gay law: Stephen Fry

British actor Stephen Fry on Wednesday called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to deprive Russia of its right to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi over a “barbaric” law against homosexuals.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in June signed into law legislation that punishes the dissemination of information about homosexuality to minors but which activists say can be used for a broad crackdown against gays.

“The IOC absolutely must take a firm stance on behalf of the shared humanity it is supposed to represent against the barbaric, fascist law that Putin has pushed through the Duma” lower house of parliament, Fry wrote on his personal website in an open letter to the IOC and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

“An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 on Sochi is simply essential. Stage them elsewhere in Utah, Lillehammer, anywhere you like. At all costs Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world,” he added.

Fry, who boasts six million followers on Twitter and is openly gay, is a well known figure in Russia through his television appearances and books.

He visited the country in March this year to meet and confront one of the initiators of the anti-gay law in Saint Petersburg.

There is growing concern that the law banning “gay propaganda” could be used against athletes at the games. Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said last week that while gay athletes are welcome in Sochi they have to obey Russian law.

Foreigners found guilty of violating the law can not only be fined up to 5,000 rubles ($156, 114 euros) but face administrative arrest of up to 15 days and eventual deportation.

Gay activists have also been calling for a boycott of Russian vodka, whose brands have traditionally been popular in gay clubs. Meanwhile the hashtags #BoycottRussia and #BoycottSochi have become increasingly popular on Twitter.