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Tuesday, 17 April, 2001, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
Spielberg quits scouts 'over gay ban'
Stevn Spielberg
Spielberg: A long-time supporter of human rights
Director Steven Spielberg has resigned from an advisory board of the Boy Scouts of America because he no longer wants to be associated with the group's "discriminatory" practices.

In a statement released on Monday, the Oscar-winning film-maker did not give details of the discrimination in question.

However, the Boy Scouts of America has been widely criticised in the US for its policy of barring homosexuals.

The last few years have deeply saddened me to see the Boy Scouts of America actively and publicly participating in discrimination

Steven Spielberg

In his advisory capacity, Spielberg had written the requirements for a cinematography merit badge and donated money to a youth camp.

Spielberg's statement said: "The last few years have deeply saddened me to see the Boy Scouts of America actively and publicly participating in discrimination.

"I thought the Boy Scouts stood for equal opportunity and I have consistently spoken out publicly and privately against intolerance and discrimination based on ethnic, religious, racial and sexual orientation," Spielberg said.

Marvin Levy, Spielberg's spokesman, added that the director was opposed to the exclusion of gays, or any other group, from scouting.


Joey Robinson, a spokesman for the Scouts, defended its right to set its membership policies.

"It is not discrimination, it is the right to set membership standards," he said. Last June, a US Supreme Court ruling upheld the group's right to decide who could belong.

Commenting on Spielberg's objections, he added: "This is America. Everybody has a right to voice their opinion and we respect his right."

Spielberg said he had had "no direct role" in the Boy Scouts.

But he said he had decided to step down to avoid public "misunderstanding" over his own attitude to gays.

"Once scouting opens its doors to all who desire the same experience that so fully enriched me as a young person, I will be happy to reconsider a role on the advisory board," he concluded.

The director has for many years been supporter of Jewish human rights organisations.

He has donated money to the Righteous Persons Foundation, which grants money to a variety of projects impacting modern Jewish life.

He has also set up the Shoah Foundation to record the testimonies of Holocaust survivors.

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