By Gary Anderson

August 13 - London Play against Russian gay lawsThe ongoing row surrounding the controversial anti-gay legislation passed by Russian Parliament in June has led to a theatre pub in London commissioning a protest play called Sochi 2014 to highlight opposition to the controversial new laws.

Playwright Tess Berry-Hart will create the show for the King's Head theatre in Islington to examine the law which was signed off by Russian President Vladimir Putin and bans "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships", imposing severe fines on those who do and on anyone organising or taking part in gay pride rallies.

The move has led to an avalanche of international condemnation including calls to boycott the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, which take place in the southwest Russian city from February 7 to 23 next year.

Last week, British Prime Minister David Cameron rejected the idea that British athletes should not attend the Games following a call from openly-gay activist Stephen Fry to do so in an open letter to Cameron, British Olympic Association (BOA) chairman Sebastian Coe, who said it was a "ludicrous proposition", and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Responding to Fry on Twitter, Cameron said that the best way to "challenge prejudice" was to attend the Games and not boycott them.

175086744Anti-discrimination activists have called for athletes to boycott the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games

IOC President Jacques Rogge has indicated that he is "seeking clarification" from
the Russian authorities as to how the new laws would affect athletes taking part in next year's event but suggested that he did not envisage the issue would affect the staging of the Games, despite Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko earlier saying that athletes who were actively promoting homosexuality during Sochi 2014 would be punished.

Berry-Hart's play, which will be performed on September 1 and 2, will use verbatim testimony from Russians in both Russia and London, with media coverage and debate surrounding the issue, and will also include extracts from the Olympic charter to emphasise the draconian nature and breaches of Olympic ideals represented by the anti-gay bill.

Any profits from the staging of the play will be donated to the Russian anti-discrimination organisation Spectrum.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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