British actor, writer and comedian Stephen Fry went “hammer and tongs” with a Russian politician yesterday during an interview about a St Petersburg law banning “gay propaganda”. Fry spoke to Vitaly Milonov, St Petersburg Legislative Assembly member and author of the law, for his two-part documentary, called Out There, about local, gay communities.
Writing on his Twitter page after the interview in St Petersburg, Fry said: “Wow that was interesting. Milonov and I going at it hammer and tongs. Large press pack awaiting me outside his office building.” He later added: “Milonov doesn’t seem to believe there are teenagers bullied and tormented for being gay, he thinks they make it up & indoctrinate to minors.”
At a press conference held afterwards, Fry compared Russian President Vladimir Putin to Dobby the house elf, a character from the Harry Potter series of films. A spokeswoman from the BBC told The Calvert Journal: “We are currently filming with Stephen, but it is too early to say more about the film at this time.”
Fry has previously spoken in support of the LGBT community in St Petersburg, where an anti-gay propaganda law was passed by the city government, purportedly seeking to protect minors from “the propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism”. A similar bill, which proposes to take the law nationwide is currently going through parliament.
Homophobic attitudes are prevalent in Russia with fewer people tolerant of homsexuality than eight years ago, according to a survey by the Levada Centre published on Tuesday. Of those polled, 85% said they opposed same-sex marriages in Russia and 87% said they did not want gay parades to be held in Russian cities. Just under a quarter, 23%, said that gay people should be left alone while 27% said they needed psychological help.