Paul O’Grady has spoken out against Russia’s “fascist” anti-gay laws, and condemned the Olympic sponsors for not doing enough on the issue.
The 58-year-old TV host was speaking to crowds of hundreds outside Downing Street yesterday, at a protest organised by AllOut and the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
He said: “I just find it very disturbing that in Russia, in a so called civilised country, gay men and women are being beaten to death in the street and it’s perfectly acceptable. And that gay men and women are afraid to leave their homes because they are going to be abused and they are going to be beaten up and imprisoned… they are going to be killed.
“What does that smack of? It smacks of the Jews in Nazi Germany and it has got to be stopped now.
“We have to lobby the sponsors, we have to lobby McDonald’s, we have to lobby Visa and we have to lobby Coca Cola. We have to kick off on our government and the Russian Government and stamp this out now.
“Fascism is marching across Europe and people say ‘it will never happen here’. Well f**k me it will, believe you me if we don’t do something about it and speak out now and stop this kind of filth and homophobic behaviour, it’s got to stop now absolutely.”
Turning to Peter Tatchell, O’Grady said: “Shall we go to Russia and kick off?” and then added, “I wouldn’t survive a Russian jail and I’ve worked in some s**tholes in my time.”
The campaigners later delivered a petition with over 130,000 signatures to Olympic sponsor McDonald’s, urging them to condemn Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law.
The Winter Olympic Games are due to open in Sochi on Friday.
US President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande, and German President Joachim Gaucki have all declined to attend the Games, as has EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, who cited concerns about the country’s poor gay rights record.