Ian McKellen and 27 Nobel Laureates Protest Russia's Gay Rights Record

Sir Ian McKellen recently took some time out from charming escapades with best bro Patrick Stewart for a very serious cause. He's collaborated with his friend, Nobel-winning chemist Sir Harry Kroto, on an open letter to Vladimir Putin, calling for the repeal of Russia's law against "homosexual propaganda."

The Independent has the letter in full, which was signed by no fewer than 27 fellow Nobel Laureates, including J.M. Coetzee and a whole lot of scientists:

"The letter is written to indicate that many senior members of the international scientific community show solidarity with politicians, artists, sports people and many others who have already expressed their abhorrence for the Russian government's actions against its gay citizens."

The letter continues, "Protest is never easy but we hope that by expressing opposition to the new legislation it might be possible to encourage the Russian State to embrace the 21st Century humanitarian, political and inclusive democratic principles which Mikhail Gorbachev worked so hard to achieve."

In an adorable flourish, McKellen signed the letter, "Ian McKellen (aka Henry V/Gandalf)."

The appalling law has been a big source of concern in the run-up to the Sochi Olympics, with many worrying that openly gay athletes from around the world could become targets. (McKellen himself says he was advised by the U.K.'s foreign affairs office to steer clear of the country.) After calls to boycott the games entirely, Obama is not attending—but is sending a delegation with three openly gay American athletes.

Meanwhile, all sorts of rocks are being kicked over to expose the stories that Putin almost certainly does not want leading coverage of the Olympics. Take, for instance, this Bloomberg report about the surge of HIV cases, particularly among the country's drug users. Doesn't really square with the image the nation is looking to project, here.

Like Russia didn't have enough problems deciding to host the winter Olympics in a sub-tropical city.

Image via Getty