Over the weekend, Debbie Harry gave a simple, concise answer about why Blondie won't be performing at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Harry tweeted a picture of the offer to perform at the Olympics with "PASS, HUMAN RIGHTS" scrawled over it in black marker.
Harry isn't the only celebrity to boycott or speak out against the Olympics being held in Russia, a place with many laws that discriminate against those who identify as LGBTQ. Many celebrities have found their own ways to publicly protest these laws.
Cher said that she was also invited to play at the Olympics, but immediately turned it down because of Russia’s anti-gay laws.”I can’t name names but my friend called who is a big oligarch over there, and asked me if I’d like to be an ambassador for the Olympics and open the show,” Cher said. “I immediately said no. I want to know why all of this gay hate just exploded over there. He said the Russian people don’t feel the way the government does.”
Takei has never been shy about share his opinions on the Internet, and Sochi was no exception. Takei posted an entire essay supporting Olympic athletes, but calling for NBC and consumers to petition and pressure the Olympic Committee to movie the Olympics to Vancouver.
Ian McKellen joined 27 Nobel laureates in an open letter to President Vladimir Putin and the Russian people published by The Independent protesting the country’s anti-gay legislation. McKellen wrote, “I have been warned by the UK Foreign Office that in Russia I could not speak openly about my sexuality, at least in the hearing of anyone under the age of 18. I have therefore felt that I had to turn down invitations to attend Russian film festivals.”
Not much love has been lost between Madonna and the Russian government. Both she and Lady Gaga have been accused of visa violations after performing in the country and reportedly violating the country’s “gay propaganda” law. Madonna and Pussy Riot also both spoke out against Putin on the eve of the Olympics, and the singer has frequently been tweeting in protest of the Olympics being held in Sochi.
In addition to being in hot water with Russia along with Madonna after performing in the country, Lady Gaga also voiced her opinion that America should boycott the Olympics on the British talk show Chatty Man. “I mean, I would never take anything away from [the athlete’s] hard work, I just think it is absolutely wrong for so many countries to send money and economy in the way of a country that doesn’t support gays,” Gaga said.
Although Putin claims that Russians love Elton John, the singer doesn’t love the country’s anti-gay laws. Elton John put a statement on his website protesting Russia’s laws against homosexual “propaganda.” “I would welcome the opportunity to introduce President Putin to some Russians who deserve to be heard, and who deserve to be treated in their own country with the same respect and warm welcome that I received on my last visit,” said John.
British comedian and actor Stephen Fry published an open letter on his website urging the International Olympics Committee and Prime Minister David Cameron to move the Olympics anywhere but Russia. ”“It is simply not enough to say that gay Olympians may or may not be safe in their village,” said Fry. “An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 is simply essential.”