In a poignant and powerful plea for immediate action, living legend Stephen Fry has called on the International Olympic Committee to institute an "absolute ban" on the Winter Games set to take place next year in Russia.

Addressing the IOC's members in a moving open letter published on his personal website, Fry urges the committee not to turn a blind eye to the injustices being committed by Russia against its LGBT residents, as the Olympics organizers did with Hitler in 1936.

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 Führer 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.

Fry says it is not enough to simply guarantee the safety of foreign athletes — the IOC must "take a firm stance" on the matter by banning Sochi from holding the Games.

"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 writes.

I am gay. I am a Jew. My mother lost over a dozen of her family to Hitler's anti-Semitism. Every time in Russia (and it is constantly) a gay teenager is forced into suicide, a lesbian "correctively" raped, gay men and women beaten to death by neo-Nazi thugs while the Russian police stand idly by, the world is diminished and I for one, weep anew at seeing history repeat itself.

"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? [...]

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.

The cultural icon in his own right goes on to remind the IOC of the "oaths and protocols" [pdf] it has sworn to uphold, including the promise to "act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement."

[Putin] is making scapegoats of gay people, just as Hitler did Jews. He cannot be allowed to get away with it.

[photo via Getty]