RUSSIA

Gay rights

US journalist pulled off Russian TV after pro-gay rant

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 August, 2013, 2:50am

Russian government-funded TV channel RT faced a new controversy yesterday after taking an American journalist off air for launching into a diatribe against Russia's anti-gay legislation.

In solidarity with Russian gays, journalist James Kirchick had snapped on rainbow-coloured braces in the colours of the gay-rights movement for an appearance on the RT channel, where he condemned the "horrific environment of homophobia in Russia".

He was speaking by video-link from Stockholm along with other panelists on a live show Wednesday afternoon discussing the case of WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning ahead of his sentencing by a US military court.

After Kirchick argued with RT's studio anchors about the anti-gay legislation and denounced the channel as a "Kremlin-funded propaganda network", the broadcaster switched to another speaker and the video link to Kirchick disappeared from the screen.

A controversial law signed in June by President Vladimir Putin banning the dissemination of "gay propaganda" has prompted international protests, including a call by British actor Stephen Fry for Russia to be denied the right to host the Winter Olympics in Sochi next year.

"A comrade decided to troll us on a show about Bradley Manning. Of course we listened to him but we decided he had nothing to do with the topic," RT's editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan wrote on Twitter. "Next time we will invite him to discuss gay rights.