- (Photo: Screen Grab via YouTube/gazetaru)
George Takei recently expressed his support of moving the 2014 winter Olympics that are scheduled to be held in Sochi to Vancouver in response to the Russian government passing anti-homosexual legislation.
He is the latest celebrity to be involved in the developing Olympic controversy and is endorsing a petition at Change.org that has already garnered nearly 50,000 signatures.
Russia "intends to enforce its laws against visiting LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) athletes, trainers and fans, meaning anyone even so much as waving a rainbow flag (and I presume many men enthusiastically watching and dramatically commenting on figure skating) would be arrested, held for weeks and then deported," the Star Trek star wrote in a blog post last week.
"Given this position, the (International Olympic Committee) must do the right thing, protect its athletes and the fans, and move the 2014 Winter Olympics out of Russia," he added.
The possibility of moving the Olympics to Vancouver is seen as a viable option given that the city hosted the previous winter Olympics and has the facilities and resources to accommodate the Games. The change in venue would also circumvent a boycott of the Games, which would punish athletes that have trained for many years.
The Russian Duma, or the lower house of parliament, passed a law in June banning homosexual propaganda by an overwhelming 436-0 vote in a country where a significant proportion of Russians support the ban.
"Traditional sexual relations are relations between a man and a woman, which ... are a condition for the preservation and development of the multi-ethnic Russian people," lawmaker Yelena Mizulina previously stated. "It is precisely these relations that need special protection by the state."
The bill reflects the country's strong stance when it comes to issues of sexuality. Public displays of homosexuality have been banned in some of Russia's largest cities, including Saint Petersburg, and the Duma-approved bill bans the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations," the Associated Press reported.
The Russian Orthodox Church has been a strong supporter of traditional family values and opposed to Western liberalism on sexual issues, according to AP -- it sees the latter as a means of corrupting Russia's youth. Lawmakers have also argued that homosexuality further decreases Russia's low birth rate, which has been in decline in the past couple of decades.