Journalist Brendan O’Neill has criticised Stephen Fry’s decision to write an open letter to the International Olympic Committee urging for the Winter Olympics not to be held in Russia because of the country’s stance on LGBT rights.
O’Neill has also accused the gay writer and broadcaster of “exploiting” the Holocaust in his arguments.
Calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to intervene, Fry compared the situation to the decision to hold the 1936 Olympic Games in Nazi Germany and said President Vladimir Putin “is making scapegoats of gay people”.
He said: “An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 on Sochi is simply essential. Stage them elsewhere in Utah, Lillehammer, anywhere you like. At all costs Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world.”
Writing in the blog section of The Daily Telegraph’s website, journalist and columnist Brendan O’Neill gave a withering response to Fry’s letter.
“Just when you thought Stephen Fry couldn’t get any more pompous and self-important, he goes and writes a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on behalf of the entire ‘civilised world’ demanding that it forbid Russia from hosting the Winter Olympics in 2014. Not content with being King of the Luvvies and High Priest of Hampstead, Mr Fry now seems to have his eye on the title of Arbiter Of All That Is Right In Global Affairs.”
O’Neill continued: “Whatever you think of Putin – I think he’s a deeply unpleasant authoritarian – there is much that is perverse in Mr Fry’s blustering, ill-edited letter. First there’s the shrillness and infantile historical illiteracy. Throughout the letter Mr Fry compares Putin’s treatment of homosexuals to Hitler’s treatment of the Jews. He says Putin is ‘eerily repeating [Hitler's] insane crimes’. This is deeply offensive – to Jews. And to historical memory.
“Putin is not rounding up gays, putting them in disgusting ghettos, and plotting to execute every last one of them, as Hitler did with the Jews. Mr Fry is exploiting the greatest crime in human history in order to give his campaign against Putin some extra clout. In the process he is denigrating the uniqueness of the Holocaust against the Jews by implying that similar things are happening now, in Russia, and presumably also in other places where certain minorities are oppressed.”
On Tuesday, in an interview with Jay Leno on NBC’s Tonight Show, President Obama said he had “no patience” for countries, like Russia, that intimidate and harm individuals based on their sexual orientation.
Brendan O’Neill is a staunch opponent of equal marriage. Earlier this year he told a Commons committee: “I think same-sex marriage is an entirely invented, purely symbolic issue and it doesn’t have any roots in social activism.”
He added: “People are tolerant of homosexuals, which is a wonderful, great thing, but they are confused by the priority that is given to this issue and I don’t think that’s surprising because this issue came out of thin air and it’s largely being pursued for the benefit of individual politicians and campaigners rather than for the benefit of society.”
Tory MP Desmond Swayne responded by saying he had been lobbied by an elderly gay couple who had once had to hide their illegal relationship and now wished to get married.