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Stephen Fry to help celebrate SA gay rights milestone

Arts & Culture

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English writer, actor and TV host Stephen Fry is coming to Adelaide for a special event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in South Australia.

The Don Dunstan Foundation and Adelaide Festival Centre are presenting the November 29 talk, which will see the celebrated raconteur and gay rights advocate interviewed by ABC journalist Annabel Crabb.

Fry – best-known as the host of British television quiz show QI and for sketch comedies such as Blackadder and A Bit of Fry and Laurie – is expected to discuss gay rights, mental health, his love of nature “and whatever else tickles his fancy”.

Fry on the long-running quiz show QI.

Fry on the long-running quiz show QI.

“He’s just such an amazingly entertaining and spirited person, and he has a set of values that are easily captured in what he talks about,” Dunstan Foundation executive director Donna Harden told InDaily.

“He’s worked very hard for gay rights. He’s been absolutely passionate about that subject.”

Fry’s two-part documentary Out There, which screened in Australia last year, looked at the lives of gay people in different parts of the world and included a highly confrontational interview with a minister in Uganda’s government at the time it was seeking to make homosexuality a capital crime.

He has also worked to fight the stigma often attached to mental health problems, speaking about his own long battle with bipolar disorder in a program titled The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive as well as in his autobiographies.

Harden said Fry’s interests, including the environment, aligned well with those of the Dunstan Foundation, a charitable trust with a focus on social justice issues.

Fry will be in Australia for most of November, touring the country with his new live show Telling Tales. However, Adelaide is not on the Telling Tales itinerary, so his talk at the Festival Theatre will be the only opportunity to see him here.

Harden said the Dunstan Foundation first approached his management a year ago inviting him to come to South Australia.

“He’s incredibly busy so there’s been a long wait period. I just threw it out there and hoped we would get a response – and not only did we get that, we got a really lovely response.

“He’s sympathetic to the values we stand for and also the fact that it’s a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality.”

Fry married his partner, Elliott Spencer, earlier this year and featured in a short film made by Irish comedians supporting a “yes” vote in Ireland’s gay marriage referendum in May.

Harden said she didn’t know if he would weigh into Australia’s marriage equality debate while here, but added: “He’s a statement in himself … he’s married and I think he’s proud to show that and that’s where his sympathies lie.”

The Don Dunstan Foundation, in association with the Adelaide Festival Centre, will present Stephen Fry, in conversation with Annabel Crabb, at the Festival Theatre  from 5pm-6.30pm on November 29. Tickets will be available through BASS from noon tomorrow.

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