Sir Ian McKellan Blasts IOC as Russia's Anti-Gay Laws Set to Overshadow 2014 Olympics

The Olympics, traditionally lauded for their ability to inspire international competition and national pride, have turned towards a fight for human rights as the world prepares for the 2014 Sochi games. Rights activists have recently turned an eye towards Russia as the country's anti-gay laws have been enacted - and today's news that the International Olympic's Committee (IOC) has declared that the nation's laws do not interfere with the world games, has caused some to speak out, including Sir Ian McKellen.

In a post on his Facebook page, the famed stage and screen actor writes:

"As a gay participant in the opening ceremony of the London Paralympics in 2012, I am angered by the International Olympics Committee's announcement that harsh Russian anti-gay laws do not transgress its own Sixth Fundamental Principle of Olympism that "any form of discrimination is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic movement". In Russia, it is now effectively illegal to speak about homosexuality in public. That means that openly gay visitors to Russia, including Olympians, are only welcome if they bring their closets with them. I agree with the Human Rights Campaign that, "The IOC has completely neglected its responsibility to athletes, corporate sponsors, and fans."

The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics kick off Feb. 7.

McKellen is the recipient of six Laurence Olivier Awards, a Tony Award, a Golden Globe Award, two Academy Award nominations, four BAFTA nominations and five Emmy Award nominations. His work spans genres ranging fromShakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction. He will next appear on Broadway opposite Patrick Stewart in No Man's Land and Waiting for Godot in rep.

Some of his most notable film roles include Gandalf in the The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, Magneto in the X-Men films, and Sir Leigh Teabing in The Da Vinci Code.

McKellen was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1979, was knighted in 1991 for services to the performing arts, and was made a Companion of Honour for services to drama and to equality, in the 2008 New Year Honors.

Photo by Walter McBride

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