WASHINGTON, August 22 (RIA Novosti) – The star of the US television show “Prison Break,” Wentworth Miller, turned down an invitation to be a guest of honor at next month’s St. Petersburg International Film Festival, telling festival organizers in a letter published this week, “As a gay man, I must decline.”
Though it has been the subject of public speculation for years, the 41-year-old, ruggedly handsome actor who often plays dark characters had never publicly acknowledged his sexual orientation until he came out as gay in the letter. His timing, he said, was tied to actions in Russia.
“I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government,” Miller wrote in the letter, which was copied to and then published by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), an advocacy group for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) community.
“The situation is in no way acceptable, and I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly,” he added.
A new law in Russia, which went into effect in June, bans the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors.
Proponents say it shields children from harmful influences, but it has outraged the LGBT community and its supporters in the United States and elsewhere.
Amid reports of foreigners arrested in Russia under the new law, and widespread reports of violent attacks on gays, some groups are calling for a boycott of Russian products including vodka. Others are calling for a boycott of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
GLAAD applauded Miller’s move, and said it hopes other high-profile, gay celebrities would do the same.
"Wentworth's bold show of support sends a powerful message to LGBT Russians, who are facing extreme violence and persecution," said GLAAD spokesman Wilson Cruz in a statement.
"As people from across the globe continue to speak out against Russia's horrific law, more celebrities and corporations should follow his courageous lead in openly condemning Russia's anti-LGBT law," he added.
“As someone who has enjoyed visiting Russia in the past and can also claim a degree of Russian ancestry, it would make me happy to say yes,” Miller wrote to festival organizers, adding, “Perhaps, when and if circumstances improve, I'll be free to make a different choice.”