Sochi Olympics Begin with Awesome Solidarity and Shameful Rights Violations

It’s finally here. The Sochi Winter Olympics and Paralympics had its opening ceremony on Friday, and the games are now underway, but it comes amid turmoil and protest about Russia’s continued crackdown on civil rights. Here are some of the stories from the lead up to the games you might have missed.

Sochi: The Great and the Good

Google Doodle (Friday, February 07), Used Under Fair Use Terms.

1) Googles Epic Google Doodle

Google’s front page is one that many people visit everyday. The Google Doodle, where Google changes its logo to commemorate a special event or memorialize someone or something, has become a staple of Internet chatter. As you can see above, Google chose to do something very special on Friday and painted its Winter Olympics Doodle with rainbow colors. Not just that, but Google underscored the image with words from the Olympic Charter:

“The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

TheGuardian newspaper also changed its online logo to rainbow colors to show its own solidarity.

2) AT&T, U.S. Olympic Sponsor, Supports Nondiscrimination

Telecommunications giant AT&T, which sponsors the U.S. Olympic team (but not the games itself), released a blog post this past week, saying in a strong statement that:

“We support LGBT equality globally and we condemn violence, discrimination and harassment targeted against LGBT individuals everywhere.”

None of the official Sochi sponsors, including McDonald’s and Coca Cola, have addressed the issue of Russia’s gay propaganda ban or the violence that the law appears to have exacerbated.

3) U.N. Leader Condemns Attacks on Russias LGBT Community

A day before the games, U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-moon told the International Olympic Committee that world leaders and those involved in the games have a duty to raise their voices about the violence perpetrated against Russia’s LGBT community:

“We must all raise our voices against attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people. We must oppose the arrests, imprisonments and discriminatory restrictions they face,” he is quoted as saying.

Principle 6 Avatar. Used under Fair Use. All credit to Principle 6.

The secretary general also highlighted Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter that should form the basis of the IOC’s commitment to opposing discrimination. Principle 6 has now become a main focus for LGBT-rights protests, with social media users changing their avatars to a Principle 6 image in order to show their solidarity. You can find out more and how to do that yourself here.

4) Renowned Writers Pen Letter to Russia Decrying Civil Rights Abuses

Over 200 writers including Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood have written an open letter to Russian authorities calling for the repeal of Russia’s gay propaganda ban, blasphemy laws, and Russia’s recently reinstated (broad) defamation law that they say create a “chokehold” on writers.

The letter is worth reading in its entirety but one blistering snippet includes:

“Criminalising those who write positively about gay people and gay themes, or who write negatively about the church, criminalising defamation, these are all things that clamp down on the exchange of ideas, that push dissent and stories underground. I hope that Mr Putin reads the open letter; I hope he changes course.”

5) British TV Channel Rebrands with a Catchy Music Video to Support Russias Gay Community

Channel 4, which this week also aired a harrowing documentary into the violent attacks on Russia’s gay community called “Hunted,” also this week re-branded with rainbow colors and an attention grabbing good luck message called “Gay Mountain”:

Good luck indeed.


Sochi: The Bad and the Ugly

1) Russia Arrests Gay Protesters (Including a Pregnant Woman) Before Protest Can Even Start

Reports say that four protesters, among them a pregnant woman, were arrested in St. Petersburg on Friday prior to launching a protest of Russia’s anti-gay crackdown. The protesters, led by LGBTI advocate Anastasia Smirnova had hoped to wave banners saying: “Discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic Movement. Principle 6. Olympic Charter.”

Buzzfeed reports that the protesters are unsure how the police learned about the protest, and it is unclear at this time what exactly they are being charged with, but we can speculate that an intent to break the law may now be sufficient justification for these arrests under tougher anti-demonstration laws that were brought in prior to the games.

2) Russian Deputy Prime Minister Warns Gay Athletes to Stay Away from Children

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak has repeated President Putin’s ridiculous warning to gay athletes that they should leave Russian children alone, saying at anews conference on Thursday that any athlete caught engaging in gay propaganda around minors would be subject to the ban on disclosing information about “non-traditional sexuality.” He added, “Leave the kids alone.”

This kind of discriminatory paranoia should mean Russia is incapable of hosting the games, but the IOC has continued its refusal to engage with the issue.

3) Russian Authorities Pursue Teenage Girl for Coming Out

Earlier this week reports began to emerge that a girl of around 14 years of age was being investigated for gay propaganda after having “openly declared herself tobe aperson ofnontraditional sexual orientation.” Basically, for coming out and daring to tell others that being gay is okay. That did not sit well with local authorities and a police investigation got underway.

Reports Radio Free Europe: published a copy of a special police commission’s resolution on its website.

It said the student was found guilty of “systematically disseminating information directed to the formation of distorted ideas about social equality among traditional and nontraditional sexual relations.”

That charge would have remained on the unnamed girl’s criminal record, possibly hampering her chances for employment and moving on with her life. Fortunately, and apparently after a public outcry, it appears those charges have now been dropped. The fact that Russian authorities saw fit to pursue a ninth grader however speaks volumes about the desperate civil rights situation within the country.

4) Books Investigated for Gay Propaganda

Leading Russian novelistLudmila Ulitskaya has spoken out about how she believes a book she had a hand in creating is being investigated under Russia’s gay propaganda law.

Reports the Guardian:

The Family in Our Country and Others, by Vera Timenchik, “caused a stormy reception”, she said. “There is a small section that says in some places in the world there are also homosexual families.”

She said Timenchik had been called for questioning by authorities and had told her that investigators wanted to speak to her too.

“I’ve been abroad for the last month and a half and I will go to see them as soon as I return to Moscow,” Ulitskaya told AFP.

Russian authorities are denying these claims, saying the books have not been checked in this manner, however we do know that local authorities have raised objections about the book and that it appears to have been removed from children’s libraries in some places.


That’s what happened this past week in the run-up to the games. Care2 will of course keep you updated about the latest goings on in Sochi as they happen.

Photo credit: Global Sports Forum


Tim W.
Timothy W2 years ago

Ron C,
I appreciate what you are saying, I don't really see however how speaking openly about sexuality is going to have a negative impact on straight or gay youth. Only talking about one type of sexuality will have a negative impact on the type not being spoke of. The only case I have ever seen or heard of a straight person being concerned that they might be gay, was in cases where the youth exhibits traits that are often unjustifiably attributed to being gay. So it seems to me that open frank discussion of sexuality would help some straight youth who might have some confusion if anything. A lot of people are concerned about educating youth about homosexuality as if they are going to be given lessons on the mechanics. That of course is ridiculous.

You had mentioned the whole developing as a person going through puberty. I certainly hope you understand that a person is gay or straight or possibly by, before they hit puberty. There is so much more to a persons sexual identity than just the sex.

Ron C.
Ron C2 years ago

I am referring to the possible negative impact that the LGBT movement may have on straight young people...just as you say I am not qualified to speak to gay issues....perhaps you have no idea what I am talking about when referring to straight young people...I fully acknowledge and understand what you say about gay youth needing support, and the difficulties you speak of....and I understand that the gay movement was absolutely necessary to change the way things are not getting what I am saying..the fight for gay rights and recognition has been going on for so long and it might be time to look beyond the movement to see if it is having unintended negative consequences in general....and specifically negative outcomes for straight youth...because it does matter...and remember I am speaking from the perspective of a Canadian where gay rights and acceptance seems to be light years ahead of some places on earth...and I think we are at a point in Canada where we can start to have a balanced and fair discussion about this without everyone on one side calling everyone on the other side a the LGBT movement matures and achieves many of its goals it increasingly becomes a legitimate debate...and we can all have a discussion from the same side...all as members of humanity.

Tim W.
Timothy W2 years ago

Ron C.
I was not implying that you have no experience with heterosexuality, rather homosexuality. You see people grow up with the straight life style as the norm and what is taught and implied from the day you are born. Straight people take the changes and developments as they come with out giving much thought. "It is just how it is." Gay people tend at an early age to know something is different. We may not fully understand it until we get older, but it is there. Now I am not saying that is how it is for all gay people, but it is for many. Some of us find that our families and community are so deeply embedded and indoctrinated in religion or other controlling factors they often manage to tuck their sexuality away until they are older. The difference for straight people and gay people is, that gay people grow up observing and seeing how straight people act, develop and behave. Straight people don't stop to think about how gay people perceive the world or their experiences. The point is unless you can tell me that you have experienced what it is to know you are not like everyone else I don't think you are qualified on the subject. Being gay is not having an undeveloped sexuality. I hit puberty before anyone else in my class. But as I have pointed out many times before. Sexuality actually has a lot more to do than the actual physical attraction. It goes much deeper.

Dianne T.
Dianne T2 years ago

Please focus on the magnificent sportsmen and women who are competing at the olympics and maybe it will mae you proud whatever your lifestyle choices?

Ron C.
Ron C2 years ago

I do have personal experience with being heterosexual and the changes that occur..I dont know if it is brain chemistry or hormones or both...gays say they are born gay...well as far as I am concerned heterosexuals are not born heterosexual....heterosexual identity develops...and it has to be allowed to develop...and sexual development takes a big leap at puberty when a boys voice deepens and body hair grows and testosterone levels rise...and when girls grow breasts and start to menstruate....and I think it is problematic when youth whose sexual identity has not yet developed and who mainly identify with their own sex nad they are convinced they may be gay because of that...only to realize later that they in fact are not gay....and yes it is happening.

Tim W.
Timothy W2 years ago

I would assume that by your way of thinking that you would at least agree then that it is also wrong for people to take young people and teach them that they must be straight and being gay is bad. That it would be wrong for straight adults to take young people and put them through therapies that hurt them physically and emotionally trying to make them straight. Lets also keep in mind that there are may more young people out there fearing they are gay and having no resources to assist them because of these laws, than there are straight kids that will be confused by the informational materials and accidentally be gay for a while.
Have to go to work. I would love to continue this discussion though. I see so many holes in you line of thought here.

Tim W.
Timothy W2 years ago

Ron C.
As far as young people seduced into sexual relations goes, that has nothing to do with homosexuality. It happens bot with same sex and opposite sex. In both cases it is known to be quite traumatic for the victims when they get older. I am yet to meet any one who thought they were gay and became straight with exception to a couple people who worried that they might be gay based on unfortunate stereotypes that the learn from others. I think you are basing your beliefs on the issue, based on things you have no personal experience with.

As far as the young hockey players go, no I am not familiar, based on experience I would say if they were truly willing at the time their revulsion had more to do with the culture of sport they were in. But neither you or I can say for certain.

Ron C.
Ron C2 years ago

...but straight people can choose to be gay before they beome clearly heterosexual and there may be issues with that.

Ron C.
Ron C2 years ago

I think the LGBT community has to be cognizant of the possibility that they might actually overshoot their goal and move beyond support to actual recruitment of young people before these young people are themselves aware of their own orientation....most little boys will say they dont even like girls...but at some point that changes for heterosexual males and they become attracted to girls...and there may be a point along the way before it is apparent to the young male or female what their orientation will become that they can be seduced into a homosexual relationship...and then after they develop a clear understanding that they are in fact heterosexual it can be very problematic for them....I am thinking of Sheldon Kennedy and Thoeren Fleury....are you familiar with their story..they were NHL hockey players...when playing junior hockey their coach seduced or manipulated them into a homosexual relationship...they were willing participants but later on were personally repulsed by what they had been doing...I dont think this revulsion is a social or cultural construct as much as it is instinctual....I know of a young girl..the daughter of a friend of mine... who at an early age declared herself to be a lesbian...later she realized she was in fact heterosexual...she dealt with it by blowing her head off...I have read about young people being gay because it is chic and cool...yes gay people may not choose to be gay...but straight people can choose to be gay before they be

Lynn C.
Lybb C2 years ago