Actors Mathew Horne, Hayley Atwell and cast use curtain call as protest against Russian anti-gay laws

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Actors Hayley Atwell and Mathew Horne, and the cast of London stage show The Pride, have used their curtain call as a protest against Russian anti-gay laws introduced in June.

Atwell, star of Captain America, Mathew Horne, of Gavin and Stacey fame, and the cast of The Pride at Trafalgar Studios, used their first night curtain call last night to hold up placards reading “To Russia with love”.

The 2008 play by Alexi Kaye Campbell, explores attitudes towards gay people.

Atwell also joined a protest last week at London’s Whitehall against the laws, one of which bans the “promotion” of homosexuality to minors. She was with Mathew Horne of Gavin and Stacey at the protest

On the decision to hold the banners, she said her mother Allison, gathered them for the cast.

She said: “They say, ‘To Russia With Love.’ We don’t want to add to the hatred by saying something negative about [President] Putin. But it does make an impact.”

“It is a very heated time for the gay community. Doing this play, I realise how far we’ve come but how far we’ve got left. There are still horrendous statistics about homophobic attacks in this country.”

On the play, in which she takes up the role of a wife whose husband refuses to acknowledge his homosexuality, and another character who is the friend of a gay man in scenes 50 years late, she said: “What is great about this play is it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s a lot of humour. It’s not a play that is only for the gay community.”

In attendance at the opening night last night were Sandi Toksvig, actresses Frances Barber and Sophie Okonedo, and Harry Potter actor Harry Melling.

President Vladimir Putin signed the law in June banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors, a move that has been criticised as part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community. Other laws banning the adoption of Russian children by foreign same-sex couples, and one which enables organisations receiving funding from abroad to be fined as “foreign agents”, were also passed.

The laws have so far sparked controversy among LGBT activists, with some calling for a boycott of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Others have also called to boycott Russian vodka as a form of protest.

On Monday, the Russian Interior Ministry confirmed that recently introduced anti-gay legislation will remain in force during the Sochi games.

A petition which has gathered over 150,000 signatures, calls for the 2014 games to be relocated to Vancouver, following the passage of anti-gay laws in Russia.

In an interview last week, a senior International Olympics Committee member said: “Russia must respect the Olympic Charter, or we will say goodbye to them”, broaching the question of relocating the games with the IOC for the first time.