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German playwright boycotts Russia over “gay propaganda” law

German playwright boycotts Russia over "gay propaganda" law
A scene from The Ugly One, a play by Marius von Mayenburg

21 August 2013

An award-winning German playwright has joined a growing number of international cultural figures who have refused invitations to Russia because of the country’s controversial “gay propaganda” law. Marius von Mayenburg, one of Germany’s most prolific contemporary playwrights, this week declined an invitation to Moscow to attend a production of one of his plays and give a masterclass.

In a letter to Moscow’s Theatre of Nations and the Territory International Contemporary Art Festival, he wrote: “I work with a lot of artists of non-traditional sexual orientation who I have ties with and who I feel responsible for. I can’t go to a country where those people would feel discriminated against by the state for their sexual orientation and not react to that. But at the same time, it’s not my ambition to make myself into an activist in Russia. Therefore … I have decided not to go to Moscow.”

Von Mayenburg joins US television personality Andy Cohen, who last week rejected an invitation to co-host the upcoming Miss Universe pageant, and British choreographer Ben Wright, who refused to participate in a dance programme organised by the Ministry of Culture. In an open letter, Wright said that President Vladimir Putin “has made it pointedly clear that people like me are not welcome in Russia”.

The rejections follow an open letter from British actor Stephen Fry to British Prime Minister David Cameron calling for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Cameron replied that while he shared Fry’s concern for gay people in Russia, he did not back a boycott.

The Russian law, which was passed in June, makes it a criminal offence to spread information about homosexuality to those under 18. The vaguely-worded law means that even public displays of affection between gay couples could be penalised. Since its passage, a spate of homophobic attacks have taken place across Russia.

Source: RIA Novosti