The actor Stephen Fry has spoken to Travel Gay, our sister site, about his global travels and encountering homophobia in some of the most difficult countries in the world for LGBT people.
In an interview with our editor-in-chief, Darren Burn, Stephen Fry spoke of his time in Russia, Uganda and meeting the now president of Brazil Jair Bolsanaro when he was a senator. He also touched upon gay rights in the Middle East in places like Saudi Arabia and how the complexities of world politics mean it’s sometimes difficult to effect change.
Stephen Fry on Greece
Stephen is well known for writing books about Ancient Greece, including Mythos and Troy. When asked whether he prefers the cultural side to Greece or spending time in its many tavernas and bars, he said, “The great thing about Greece is you can do both. You can enjoy Mykonos as a reward for your cultural trawling earlier on. I love Greece and the effect it has on my sense of self and history. To be in the place where so many heroic figures were and where so much of our civilization was born is a tremendous treat. Plus it’s just so beautiful. The sky is particularly blue over Greece. The sea is particularly blue, the stones are white, the grass green and the mixture of them all is so magical on the senses.”
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Stephen Fry On Uganda
“They [tend to be] supported by American religious groups that are very self-consciously trying to get footholds in Africa for their brand of Pentecostalism. Being a pastor in Uganda is a power grab. Pastors have big audiences, big congregations.”
Stephen Fry On Saudi Arabia
“I’ve been asked to do goodwill visits to Saudi Arabia. I’m vaguely well known there and they say they want to show me it’s not what I think it is.”
But he admits that the advent of globalisation and world politics make it tricky. “A friend said to me that if the West stops any support of Saudi Arabia, Russia and China are only too keen to forge very strong relations with their country. Is that a good thing for the world? And then immediately you’re pulled into the complexity of world relations and world politics and I suppose there is a point to that.”
Stephen Fry on Russia
“I spoke to the St Petersburg politician who put in place a law banning the promotion of the LGBT lifestyle as being normal or equivalent to a straight lifestyle. Anyone who spoke well of or implied normalcy to gay relations was breaking this law. There was a strong belief that this law would be passed onto the Duma and become federal Russian law, and indeed it did.”
Stephen Fry on Brazil
Stephen discussed the aftermath of meeting Brazil’s current president Jair Bolsanaro: “The irony is, just after the interview I went to see the Sao Paulo gay pride parade. It’s the largest in the world and the size of it, the spectacle of it, the joy of it, the fellowship of it, it was so magnificent that I thought, well, you know, they’ve got this strange senator who’s a right-wing military fascist, but look at the country, they’re so open and accepting. It was a gay pride parade unlike anything I’d seen before. Goodness me, the Brazilians do know how to do that.”