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Watch: Harvey Fierstein on Boycotting Russian Olympics

On Wednesday, Frontiers Associate Editor Brenden Shucart posted a thoughtful opinion of why he thinks the LGBT community and allies should not boycott the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia in reaction to the increasingly violent, state-sanctioned homophobia. Rather, Shucart argues that Russian products such as vodka should be boycotted and America should open its arms to gays seeking asylum.

Award-winning playwright and actor Harvey Fierstein has a different response, as he told MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell. He believes the violence against gays is similar to that used by the Nazis in Germany. Additionally, he thinks there’s more to come—that Putin will start removing the children of gay parents. Here’s an excerpt from MSNBC, followed by the interview:

“Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, has declared war on homosexuals,” actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein wrote in a scathing op-ed for The New York Times Sunday. ”So far, the world has mostly been silent.”

Fierstein, a longtime advocate for LGBT issues, is trying to draw attention to Russia’s restrictive new policies toward homosexuals. Among these policies is a law signed by Putin on July 3 which bans the adoption of Russian-born children by homosexuals. The law also restricts foreign families from adopting Russian children if they live in a country where marriage equality exists at all.

On June 30, Putin signed a law that allows Russian authorities to detain tourists or foreign nationals who are gay or pro-gay for up to 14 days. This law is particularly significant for the effect it could have on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Could gay or pro-gay athletes and spectators be subject to arrest if they attend the Olympic ceremonies?

In a statement released on July 17 to the Windy City Times, the International Olympic Committee addressed the issue.

“The International Olympic Committee is clear that sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation,” said the statement. “The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and of course athletes. We would oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardize this principle.”

Fierstein is more forceful in his op-ed: “The Olympic Committee must demand the retraction of these laws under threat of boycott.”

Earlier in June, Putin signed a bill which classifies “homosexual propaganda” as pornography, putting anyone at risk of fines or arrest who so much as tells another that homosexuality is normal. Finally, Fierstein notes a final law, rumored to be on its way to passage, that could facilitate the removal of children from the homes of homosexual parents, adopted or biological.

Fierstein sees these new laws as a way for Putin to gin up support from his base, while distracting from the failure of other policies.

“Mr. Putin’s campaign against lesbian, gay and bisexual people is one of distraction, a strategy of demonizing a minority for political gain taken straight from the Nazi playbook,” Fierstein writes. “Can we allow this war against human rights to go unanswered? Although Mr. Putin may think he can control his creation, history proves he cannot: his condemnations are permission to commit violence against gays and lesbians.”

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