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Politicians, Celebrities Urge IOC To Move 2014 Winter Olympics Over Russia’s Crack Down On Gay Rights

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Gay rights activists march in Russia's second city of St. Petersburg. (Photo by OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)

Gay rights activists march in Russia’s second city of St. Petersburg. (Photo by OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) – With the overwhelming support of Russia’s parliament and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approval, the country recently banned gay pride events, gay adoptions and gay “propaganda.”

President Barack Obama criticized the new law cracking down on gay rights activism, saying he has “no patience for countries that try to treat gays and lesbians and transgendered persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”

Russia has said it will enforce the law when it hosts the 2014 Winter Olympics. When asked whether the law would impact the games, Obama said he believes Putin and Russia have “a big stake in making sure the Olympics work.”

“I think they understand that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics, we wouldn’t tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently,” he said.

Obama is far from alone in his disagreement with their decision.

Around the world, prominent figures from politicians to actors have called upon the International Olympic Committee to move the 2014 Winter Olympics out of Sochi, in Krasnodar Krai, Russia, due to Putin’s insistence on enforcing laws that prosecute homosexuals, as well as those who support them.

In addition to Obama, famed actors Stephen Fry and George Takei have penned open letters urging the IOC to reconsider hosting the games in Russia.

In Fry’s case, he evoked the imagery of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, during which Jewish athletes were segregated and assaulted under the increasingly powerful regime of dictator Adolf Hitler.

“I write in the earnest hope that all those with a love of sport and the Olympic spirit will consider the stain on the Five Rings that occurred when the 1936 Berlin Olympics proceeded under the exultant aegis of a tyrant who had passed into law, two years earlier, an act which singled out for special persecution a minority whose only crime was the accident of their birth,” he began. “Putin is eerily repeating this insane crime, only this time against LGBT Russians.”

Renowned business expert and Labour party member Lord Alli backed Fry’s statements, while former Paralympic athlete Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson of Britain told The Independent that she was disappointed in Russia’s insistence upon pushing its homophobic agenda on the Games.

”I am not massively a fan of boycotts … but in this instance we see the anti-gay legislation and it is really scary,” she said. “Any athlete going who is openly gay must feel in an extremely difficult position.”

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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