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Ian McKellen leads Nobel laureates in Russian gay rights protest

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Jan 14, 2014 | 5:32am EST

Veteran British actor Sir Ian Mckellen has joined forces with 27 Nobel laureates to write an open letter to Russia's president over the country's anti-gay stance. The Lord of the Rings star has brought together leading figures from both sciences and the arts, including his longtime friend, chemist Sir Harry Kroto, as well as South African novelist J.M. Coetzee and writer/poet Herta Muller, to sign the letter to President Vladimir Putin. The note, published in Britain's The Independent newspaper, urges Putin to repeal laws which ban gay propaganda and the promotion of homosexuality. It reads, "This (law) inhibits the freedom of local and foreign lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (sic) people to speak openly about their sexuality and prohibits Gay Pride celebrations. Scientist Harold Kroto and actor Ian McKellen, who have been friends since schooldays have formulated this open letter to Mr Putin and the people of Russia and garnered support for its sentiment from 27 Nobel Laureates. "The letter is written to indicate that many senior members of the international scientific community show solidarity with politicians, artists, sports people and many others who have already expressed their abhorrence for the Russian Government's actions against its gay citizens." The protest comes just weeks before the Olympic Winter Games kick off in Sochi, Russia. Campaigners have called for a boycott of the sporting event over the country's anti-gay laws.

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