Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Sir Ian McKellen: My Disillusionment With Russia

Sir Ian McKellen has said he was advised "not to go to Russia" by the Foreign Office because of the country's homosexuality laws.

"That's why I can't go... they couldn't protect me from those laws," Sir Ian, 74, told the Radio Times.

"Two and a half hours from London! In the land of Tchaikovsky, Diaghilev, Rudolf Nureyev - gay artists whose sexuality informed their work."

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's special dedicated Advising Ian McKellen On Trips Abroad desk got straight on the phone to Serena and told her; "Ian, love, do not - and I repeat - do not go to Russia. We simply can not protect you from all these laws. Look at what happened to Sir Elton John over the weekend. After he played that concert in St Petersburg and gave a much-publicised speech in favour of gay rights, they sent him straight to the Gulag. I've had dolly David Furnish on the phone all day! We don't want that to happen to another much-loved gay national treasure like you, dear. Look, in Russia right now they arrest you just for being - how can I put this - a bit poofy. And you're more than a bit poofy! Only joking, love. No I'm not making all this up. I read it in the paper! What do you mean you weren't planning on going to Russia anyway?! Best stay in and paint your toe-nails. Ciao!"

Actual UK Foreign Office travel advice for Russia; "Homosexuality is legal in Russia, but there is still a degree of intolerance among some sections of the population. Be careful about public displays of affection. A law banning the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relationships” entered into force in June 2013. These laws may affect public statements and assemblies on LGBT issues [They clearly don't]. It is unclear how this law will be applied, but it includes tougher penalties for non-Russians including arrest, fines and deportation."

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