WASHINGTON, October 16 (RIA Novosti) – Russian émigré ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov has added his voice to a chorus of international artists and celebrities condemning Russia’s new law on homosexuality, calling it discriminatory and backward.
"My life has been immensely enriched by gay mentors, colleagues and friends and any discrimination and persecution of gay people is unacceptable,” Baryshnikov said in a statement published on the website of the No More Fear Foundation gay rights advocacy group.
“Equal treatment of people is a basic right and it is sad that we still have to even speak about this in 21st century."
The new Russian legislation, signed into law by President Vladimir Putin earlier this year, bans the promotion of non-traditional sexual orientations among minors.
The Kremlin maintains it does not prevent adults from making their own sexual choices or discriminate against homosexuals in any way and is aimed solely at protecting children. Critics charge the law promotes a wider crackdown on homosexuality in Russian society.
The No More Fear Foundation describes its mission on its website as helping people of non-traditional sexual orientation who feel persecuted in their home countries resettle in the United States.
Baryshnikov, 65, was born in the then-Soviet republic of Latvia and in 1969 became principal dancer with the St. Petersburg’s famed Kirov Ballet. He left the Soviet Union in 1974 for a career dancing with ballet companies around the world and is currently artistic director of the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York.