Award-winning German playwright rejects invitation to Moscow over anti-gay laws

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A German playwright has joined in an international boycott of Russia because of its anti-gay laws, after he refused to visit the country for a performance of his play.

Marius von Mayenburg, turned down the invitation to visit Moscow to give a masterclass, and attend a staging of his work.

He cited the federal law which bans the promotion of “non-traditional relationships”, as his reason for declining, and noted a solidarity with his LGBT friends.

“I work with a lot of artists of non-traditional sexual orientation who are my friends, who I have ties with and who I feel responsible for,” von Mayenburg said in a letter to the Moscow’s Theatre of Nations, and to the Territory international contemporary art festival.

The award winning playwright had been invited to a showcase of his work, and to give a masterclass on 3 October.

“I can’t go to a country where those people would feel discriminated against by the state for their sexual orientation and not react to that. But at the same time, it is not my ambition to make myself into an activist in Russia. Therefore … I have decided not to go to Moscow,” he continued.

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 Games. Others have also called to boycott Russian vodka as a form of protest.

The Russian Interior Ministry confirmed last week that the anti-gay legislation will remain in force during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

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.