Actor and LGBT activist George Takei on Wedensday warned holding the Winter Olympics in Russia next year would provide legitimacy to the country's persecution of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
"There are athletes that are gay or lesbian and their supporters are gay or lesbian too, and they are being put in danger and if something horrific happens — and it’s very likely given the kind of history of what’s been happening there — the responsibility is great," Takei said on MSNBC.
Russian lawmakers unanimously approved a law banning gay “propaganda” in June. The law makes spreading "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" a criminal offense, and allows for foreigners to be detained for up to 15 days and deported.
After the anti-LGBT law passed, a Russian neo-Nazi group began kidnapping and torturing LGBT teens. The neo-Nazi group uploaded grisly videos of their actions in which they did not conceal their identities, but Russian authorities have not pressed charges.
"The IOC [International Olympic Committee] is giving an international platform to Putin," Takei said. "We need to learn from history. In 1936, the Berlin Olympics happened. Three years before that, Hitler came to power and began this gradual campaign of horror against the Jewish people, and he got legitimacy throughout the world, he got more power, he got that status and that’s precisely what we’re giving Putin with the Olympics being held there."
Watch video, courtesy of MSNBC, below:
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