Re: St. Petersburg International Film Festival / “Guest of Honor” Invitation
Dear Ms. Averbakh:
Thank you for your kind invitation. As someone who has enjoyed visiting Russia in the past and can also claim a degree of Russian ancestry, it would make me happy to say yes.
However, as a gay man, I must decline.
I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government. The situation is in no way acceptable, and I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly.
Perhaps, when and if circumstances improve, I’ll be free to make a different choice.
Member, The ManKind Project
Miller’s letter is largely in protest of Russia’s recent passing of homoantagonistic laws which “include fines for individuals accused of spreading ‘propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations’ to minors, and penalizes those who express pro-gay views online or in traditional media.
Gay pride rallies and the adoption of children by gay couples is banned as well, reports USA TODAY.
In an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, President Barack Obama also spoke out against Russia’s discriminatory stance on the LGBTQ community.
Asked by Leno about the harsh nature of the laws, comparing it to the stigmatization of Jews in Nazi Germany, Obama said that he has “no patience for countries that try to treat gays, lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.” The POTUS also hinted that Russia’s president Vladimir Putin would come to his senses — if he knows what’s good for him:
“You know, I think Putin and Russia have a big stake in making sure that the Olympics work, and I think that they understand that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics, we wouldn’t tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently” Obama said. “They are athletes. They are there to compete. And if Russia wants to uphold the Olympic spirit, then every judgment should be made on the track or in the swimming pool or the balance beam and people’s sexual orientation shouldn’t have anything to do with it.”