Russia has been heavily criticised for its policies on homosexuality and the Duma parliament passed a law in June imposing fines, or even imprisonment, on people found to have promoted “non-traditional relationships” to minors.
Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko has confirmed this law will extend to any athletes attending the 2014 Games in Sochi.
The law has been interpreted as part of a wider repression of gay people in Russia, with several violent homophobic killings taking place in the country this year.
In Fry’s open letter, the much-loved celebrity was warned the IOC that if the 2014 Winter Olympics are allowed to be held in Sochi in February then history will come to view the Games in the same way they do the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which were designed to provide a propaganda boost for Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party.
Fry directly compares Hitler’s persecution of Jews with Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s attitude towards homosexuals in a fierce critique that is certain to reignite the debate over whether Sochi should be permitted to hold the Games.
In his open letter, published on his official website, Fry states: “I write in the earnest hope that all those with a love of sport and the Olympic spirit will consider the stain on the Five Rings that occurred when the 1936 Berlin Olympics proceeded under the exultant aegis of a tyrant who had passed into law, two years earlier, an act which singled out for special persecution a minority whose only crime was the accident of their birth.
“The Olympic movement at that time paid precisely no attention to this evil and proceeded with the notorious Berlin Olympiad, which provided a stage for a gleeful Fuhrer and only increased his status at home and abroad. It gave him confidence. All historians are agreed on that. What he did with that confidence we all know.
“Putin is eerily repeating this insane crime, only this time against LGBT Russians. Beatings, murders and humiliations are ignored by the police. Any defence or sane discussion of homosexuality is against the law. Any statement, for example, that Tchaikovsky was gay and that his art and life reflects this sexuality and are an inspiration to other gay artists would be punishable by imprisonment.
“It is simply not enough to say that gay Olympians may or may not be safe in their village. The IOC absolutely must take a firm stance on behalf of the shared humanity it is supposed to represent against the barbaric, fascist law that Putin has pushed through the Duma. Let us not forget that Olympic events used not only to be athletic, they used to include cultural competitions. Let us realise that in fact, sport is cultural. It does not exist in a bubble outside society or politics. The idea that sport and politics don’t connect is worse than disingenuous, worse than stupid. It is wickedly, wilfully wrong.
“An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 on Sochi is simply essential. Stage them elsewhere in Utah, Lillyhammer, anywhere you like. At all costs Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world.”
Fry also called on Cameron to intervene, while reminding the IOC of the promise it makes in its own protocols to fight discrimination.
“'All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,' so wrote Edmund Burke. Are you, the men and women of the IOC going to be those ‘good’ who allow evil to triumph?
“The Summer Olympics of 2012 were one of the most glorious moments of my life and the life of my country. For there to be a Russian Winter Olympics would stain the movement forever and wipe away any of that glory. The Five Rings would finally be forever smeared, besmirched and ruined in the eyes of the civilised world.
“I am begging you to resist the pressures of pragmatism, of money, of the oily cowardice of diplomats and to stand up resolutely and proudly for humanity the world over, as your movement is pledged to do. Wave your Olympic flag with pride as we gay men and women wave our Rainbow flag with pride. Be brave enough to live up to the oaths and protocols of your movement.”
Meanwhile, Nick Symmonds has become the first competitor at the World Athletics Championships to criticise Russia's anti-gay propaganda law but maintains he will say no more out of respect for the host nation.
Symmonds, fifth in last year's Olympic 800m final and a medal prospect in Moscow next week, wrote in his blog for Runner's World magazine that he "disagreed" with the controversial new legislation, which outlaws the promotion of homosexuality.
U.S. President Barack Obama weighed into the controversy late on Tuesday, saying he had "no patience" for Russia on the issue, while other senior sporting figures have also spoken out against the development.
In an interview on NBC's Tonight Show, Obama said: "Every judgement should be made on the track, or in the swimming pool, or on the balance beam, and people's sexual orientation shouldn't have anything to do with it."