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Over 200 Well-Known Authors Publish Open Letter Calling for End to Russia’s Anti-gay Laws

Saying that Russia’s anti-gay laws “strangle free speech,” a group of over 200 prominent authors from across the globe have written an open letter to Vladimir Putin urging repeal.

The letter, signed by Neil Gaiman, Salman Rushdie, Carol Ann Duffy, Jonathan Franzen and others, is a part of PEN International’s newly launched Out in the Cold campaign to raise awareness of threats to free expression around the globe.

Sochi-Campaign21Read the letter, in full:

The story of modern Russia is the story of dramatic, almost seismic change. Russian voices, both literary and journalistic, have always striven to make themselves heard above the clamour of their nation's unfolding story – commenting on it, shaping it and, in doing so, contributing to the political and intellectual shape of the world far beyond their country's borders.

But during the last 18 months, Russian lawmakers have passed a number of laws that place a chokehold on the right to express oneself freely in Russia. As writers and artists, we cannot stand quietly by as we watch our fellow writers and journalists pressed into silence or risking prosecution and often drastic punishment for the mere act of communicating their thoughts.

Three of these laws specifically put writers at risk: the so-called gay "propaganda" and "blasphemy" laws, prohibiting the "promotion" of homosexuality and "religious insult" respectively, and the recriminalisation of defamation.

A healthy democracy must hear the independent voices of all its citizens; the global community needs to hear, and be enriched by, the diversity of Russian opinion.

We therefore urge the Russian authorities to repeal these laws that strangle free speech, to recognise Russia's obligations under the international covenant on civil and political rights to respect freedom of opinion, expression and belief – including the right not to believe – and to commit itself to creating an environment in which all citizens can experience the benefit of the free exchange of opinion.

To see the full list of signatories, click HERE

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  1. I'm beginning to wonder if all the international pressure is counterproductive. Would, say, American authorities repeal a popular law because of international pressure?

    Posted by: Eugene | Feb 10, 2014 8:50:03 AM

  2. Putin's no different than the GOP. He's found a minority to vilify for political gain.

    Why would he bow to pressure? There's no upside to it for him. He's leader for life. He's a rich.

    Posted by: Xavi | Feb 10, 2014 9:40:10 AM

  3. @Xavi
    That's definitely plausible, but there are a few inconvenient details. If it's just about a minority to vilify for political gain, why didn't he do it earlier? And why did the anti-gay laws originate not in Moscow, but in the regions? It's not typical for Russia.

    Posted by: Eugene | Feb 10, 2014 10:35:44 AM

  4. Every voice raised against bigotry is a good thing.

    Posted by: andrew | Feb 10, 2014 12:34:49 PM

  5. If your god needs protection of man's laws, he's a weak, weak god.

    Posted by: Randy | Feb 10, 2014 5:43:30 PM

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