Two top dancers with the Royal Ballet have refused to take part in the company’s tour of Russia due to its anti-gay laws.

The dancers, who have not been named by the group, pulled out of the tour which is due to begin next week.

The move is an act of provocation towards Russia, which is considered the home of classical ballet, and featured it heavily in the Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

The Royal Ballet will perform at Moscow’s Bolshoi theatre from June 17 to June 22, performing Kenneth McMillan’s work Manon, and Tetractys – The Art of Fugue.

A spokesperson for the Royal Ballet told the Independent: “There are two dancers who have chosen not to travel for those reasons, out of a 96-strong company.

“There are also five or six more who won’t be going for family reasons. Dancers don’t have to go on tour. The absences will not require changes to the choreography.”

The spokesperson did not confirm whether the two dancers who have pulled out of the tour are gay themselves.

In January, Amnesty International staged a protest ballet performance outside the Russian embassy in London, to the work of Russian composer Tchaikovsky.

Vladimir Putin enacted an anti-gay ‘propaganda’ law last summer, which means “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” will be punishable by large fines, or imprisonment.

The law was this week used in Moscow to clamp down on protesters, and also been used for censorship of the media and internet crackdowns.

The Norwegian Football Association banned a pro-gay protest during yesterday’s friendly against Russia.

Putin claimed last year: “This destruction of traditional values from above not only entails negative consequences for society, but is also inherently anti-democratic because it is based on an abstract notion and runs counter to the will of the majority of people.”