LONDON — British Prime Minister David Cameron has ruled out a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics, saying that attending the games is a better way of tackling prejudice against gays.
Cameron was responding Saturday to a letter from British actor and writer Stephen Fry, who called for the Olympics to be taken away from Sochi because of a new Russian law that bans "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" and imposes fines on those holding gay pride rallies.
Echoing remarks made by President Barack Obama a day earlier, Cameron used Twitter to say he shares the actor's "deep concern about the abuse of gay people in Russia."
Cameron said believes prejudice can be better challenged by attending — rather than boycotting — the Olympics.
Fry had written an open letter to Cameron and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) this week calling for Russia to be stripped of its right to host the Games over a "barbaric" new law banning the spread of information about homosexuality to minors.
Activists say the law, signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in June, can be used for a broad crackdown on gay people.
Replying to Fry on his Twitter page, Cameron said: "Thank you for your note @stephenfry. I share your deep concern about the abuse of gay people in Russia.
"However, I believe we can better challenge prejudice as we attend, rather than boycotting the Winter Olympics."
Cameron's comments came the same day hundreds turned out in London to protest the Russian law and amid a growing global campaign against Russia hosting of the Games, its biggest ever sporting event which is due to open in six months.
Gathering in the British capital near Cameron's residence and the foreign ministry, demonstrators called for the government to push Russia to repeal the laws.
Clutching banners bearing slogans such as "Love Russia. Hate Homophobia" and rainbow flags, protesters called for a change in the policy that has attracted criticism from world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama.
On Friday, Olympic president Jacques Rogge asked Russia to explain how the country will implement the law in detail ahead of next year's Sochi Winter Olympics. Gays bars in the United States and other countries began boycotting Russian vodka earlier this month in protest at the laws.
In his letter to Cameron and the IOC, Fry, an openly gay actor and author, described the new Russian law as "barbaric, fascist" and likened Putin's drive against homosexuality to Adolf Hitler's persecution of Jews.
"An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 in Sochi is simply essential," Fry wrote.
"Stage them elsewhere in Utah, Lillehammer, anywhere you like. At all costs Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilized world."
Fry boasts six million followers on Twitter and is a well-known figure in Russia through his television roles, particularly in the Jeeves and Wooster series based on the books by P.G. Wodehouse, and his novels.
He visited Russia in March this year to interview one of the initiators of the anti-gay law in St. Petersburg.
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