Russia’s anti-LGBT crackdown and the IOC’s failure to act in any meaningful way over Russia’s holding the Winter Olympics in 2014 has generated a lot of press this past week. Here are seven stories to get you caught up with the latest goings on.
1. Russia Interior Minister Confirms: Athletes Will be Subject to the Anti-Gay Propaganda Law
Russia’s interior minister, who in broad terms oversees the country’s police force, has reportedly confirmed that the anti-gay propaganda law will be in force during the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games and that athletes will not be exempt from the law.
“The law enforcement agencies can have no qualms with people who harbor a nontraditional sexual orientation and do not commit such acts [to promote homosexuality to minors], do not conduct any kind of provocation and take part in the Olympics peacefully,” an Interior Ministry statement issued on Monday is reported as saying.
This is contrary to the International Olympic Committee’s previous claims that they had been assured competitors, officials, journalists and spectators would not be affected by the law. It will also serve to increase pressure on the IOC to fully engage on this issue. So far, the IOC has only raised “concerns” and sort “clarification” on the law.
2. The IOC Will Punish Athletes Who Make a Political Statement
Seeing that a Sochi 2014 boycott seems unlikely, and that moving the games appears untenable because the IOC has so far refused to even consider the idea, you might have thought the IOC would allow athletes a measure of freedom to take a stand against Russia’s appalling human rights situation and show solidarity with Russia’s LGBT and minority populations. You would be wrong.
“…the IOC has a clear rule laid out in the Olympic Charter (Rule 50) which states that the venues of the Olympic Games are not a place for proactive political or religious demonstration. This rule has been in place for many years and applied when necessary. In any case, the IOC would treat each case individually and take a sensible approach depending on what was said or done.”
3. Meanwhile, Russian State Controlled TV Anchor Says Gay Hearts Should Be Burned
Dmitri Kisilev, the anchor of the state controlled leading news show in Russia, Vesiti, offered these chilling remarks while commenting on Russia’s propaganda law:
I think that just imposing fines on gays for homosexual propaganda among teenagers is not enough. They should be banned from donating blood, sperm. And their hearts, in case of the automobile accident, should be buried in the ground or burned as unsuitable for the continuation of life.
His comments were met with resounding applause, but you would expect nothing less from the propaganda media arm of the Putin administration.
4. Demonstrations Against Russia’s Olympic Hosting Status Begin
Hundreds of people protested in London, England, on Saturday to condemn Russia’s anti-gay violence and the IOC’s lack of interest in engaging on this issue.
Celebrated writer Stephen Fry and world recognized human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell were among those who attended.
During the demonstration Stephen Fry, recognizing that a Sochi 2014 boycott was now unlikely, encouraged athletes to show solidarity with Russia’s LGBT citizens by making a gesture as they accept their medals. Others have mused that participants and spectators might hold hands.
Antwerp also saw a large scale same-sex kiss-in protest with hundreds of activists kissing outside the Belgian city’s Russian consulate to demonstrate against Russia’s anti-gay crackdown.
More protests are planned as the February games near.
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