Many musicians, actors, writers and comedians have used their considerable stature to publically denounce Russia’s anti-gay laws, putting the issue firmly at the center of peoples’ minds. The highly respected and well loved writer Salman Rushie is the latest to do so.

Salman Rushdie

He has joined more than 200 leading authors - Nobel laureates Gunter Grass, Orhan Pamuk, Wole Soyinka, and Elfriede Jelinek - in condemning Russia's controversial stance on gay rights. Like many, his thoughts were expressed via an open letter to President Vladimir Putin.

With the Winter Olympics due to launch in Sochi tomorrow, the issue has never been more prevalent.

It states: "As writers and artists, we cannot stand quietly by as we watch our fellow writers and journalists pressed into silence or risking prosecution and often drastic punishment for the mere act of communicating their thoughts.

"A healthy democracy must hear the independent voices of all its citizens; the global community needs to hear, and be enriched by, the diversity of Russian opinion. We therefore urge the Russian authorities to repeal these laws that strangle free speech."

Rushdie also tells British newspaper The Guardian, "The chokehold that the Russian Federation has placed on freedom of expression is deeply worrying and needs to be addressed in order to bring about a healthy democracy in Russia."

With the Winter Olympics kicking off tomorrow, all eyes will be on Russia. Gay athletes have already been at odds as to whether they’ll be safe to travel or not, and with the World Cup set to take place there in 2018, public opinion will become increasingly important in the coming years.