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Ian McKellen says UK told him not to go to Russia, that 'they couldn't protect me from those laws'

ASSOCIATED PRESS

LONDON -- Actor Ian McKellen says the British government has advised him not to go to Russia because of the country's anti-gay "propaganda" law.

McKellen, known to millions as Gandalf in the "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" films, told Radio Times magazine that the Foreign Office had informed him "they couldn't protect me from those laws."

The openly gay 74-year-old actor expressed disbelief that this was the case "in the land of Tchaikovsky, Diaghilev, Rudolf Nureyev — gay artists whose sexuality informed their work."

Russia has banned "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" aimed at anyone under 18. Penalties include fines and jail.

The Foreign Office said Tuesday that prospective travelers should decide whether to visit Russia based on its official advice, which notes "a degree of intolerance" of homosexuality in Russia.

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