A Russian journalist has threatened to investigate and out closeted lawmakers if they support Russia’s wider legislative onslaught against the country’s LGBT community.
Novaya Gazeta journalist Elena Kostyuchenko has used her Twitter account to ask for any “information, correspondence, photographs … about the deputies of the State Duma” if evidence indicates they may be LGBT and have supported laws like the anti-gay propaganda law.
Kostyuchenko was reportedly arrested in May for her part in a Pride event in Moscow for which the local authorities had refused permission, despite international commitments mandating freedom of speech and assembly.
Kostyuchenko has described the idea of outing as a last resort or, according to reports, a “nuclear bomb” that she will only entertain when all else has failed. However, with news that deputy Alexei Zhuravlev is preparing a bill to forcibly remove children from families where one or both parents might be gay, Kostyuchenko has said she believes the time has come.
The outing will reportedly come in the form of a dossier to be published on the same day as Zhuravlev’s bill gets its first reading in the Duma, the lower legislative house. Kostyuchenko has said she will not, however, out any lawmaker that votes against the bill. According to the New Civil Rights Movement, Kostyuchenko reportedly characterized her announcement thus:
“This is a warning. They want to destroy our life, and we will destroy them.”
This comes as those organizing the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games have petitioned the Olympics governing body, the IOC, to intervene and stop protests against Russia hosting next year’s games.
Organizer Dmitry Chernyshenko, in a speech to the IOC’s general assembly, is quoted by the Associated Press as saying “It’s very important to have your support to stop this campaign and this speculation regarding this issue.”
Chernyshenko repeated President Vladimir Putin’s recent statements that gay people are not being victimized in Russia and that the Russian constitution “guarantees the equality of rights and freedom for everybody,” attempting to reassure that foreign supporters, journalists and officials will not be subjected to discrimination over their sexuality.
“We are absolutely confident that there will be no conflicts in that regards,” he is quoted as adding, saying,”It will not stop [Sochi] 2014 from proudly upholding the Olympic values, I promise you.”
However, and despite the IOC’s contentment at these words, it remains true that Russia’s propaganda law would still be in effect and so would subject any same-sex couple to possible charges, and gag any athlete from speaking about their same-sex partner during interviews.
Furthermore, there are clear conflicts between Russia’s push to, in effect, re-criminalize homosexuality and the Olympic charter’s provisions against discrimination — regardless of what other guarantees of nondiscrimination Putin or Sochi officials might cite.
In related news, the Advocate notes that the IOC and the Sochi 2014 sponsors are feeling the pressure of the intense criticism they have received, with IOC marketing commission chairman Gerhard Heiberg quoted as saying:
“Lately there has been a lot of discussion, especially in Western Europe and in the United States, and I’m being pushed by several of the sponsors asking what will happen with this new law in Russia in connection with the gay community. We are not to try to change anything over the laws in Russia. We will of course accept this as internal Russian decision. But what will the consequences be?”
The IOC’s commitment to remain “nonpolitical” now puts it in a difficult position because, presumably, it must refrain from trying to dampen concerns over Russia’s anti-gay laws and how they square with its hosting duties. To do otherwise would be to capitulate and show a naked disregard for the Olympic organizers’ supposed ideals.