Belfast Telegraph

Dustin Lance Black banned from Russia over LGBTQ protest

Tom Daley skipped a competition in Russia shortly after he came out because it felt too risky to be there.

Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black is banned from Russia for staging a LGBTQ rights protest, according to his husband Tom Daley.

The Olympic diver sat down for a chat for ShortList magazine's Pride issue and revealed how the writer and director, who he married in May 2017, has been banned from going back to Russia after he staged a protest against the country's harsh treatment of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community while there to promote the 2008 movie Milk, which he wrote.

"My husband is blacklisted from Russia," the sports star said. "He did a big protest there with a massive rainbow flag, and after he screened his film Milk he started getting threats and attacks. So he's not allowed back."

It is not illegal to be gay in Russia, but it is widely unaccepted in society. In 2013, the government passed a law banning the promotion of "non-traditional sexual relations" to under 18s.

The 24-year-old came out as gay in a YouTube video in 2013, and he told ShortList that he skipped a competition in Russia in 2014 because he feared the repercussions.

"I thought it was too risky and unsafe. Then, when everyone got back, I really kicked myself for not going. I'd let other people rule by fear, and it weighed really heavily on me," he admitted.

"It can be scary going to countries that aren't accepting of LGBTQ+ people... I've competed in the Middle East, Russia, and parts of the Commonwealth, where being gay is punishable... I feel extremely lucky being able to compete as I am without worrying about ramifications."

Tom took part in the World Diving Series in Russia earlier this year and wore a rainbow pin with "Pride" on it because he wanted people to know he was proud of his identity, and hoped it would inspire others to feel the same.

The British diver's interview was published just days after he and Dustin, 44, announced they had welcomed their first child, a son named Robert Ray, via a surrogate at the end of June (18).

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