What Russia will, or won’t, do regarding the “homosexual propaganda” laws is far from clear, and at least to this point, it seems that athletes and visitors may be playing LGBT Russian Roulette Olympics with their own safety. Both Russian and International Olympic Committee officials offer shifting statements. From Putin and company, things are leaning on the “yes, our laws will be enforced” side, which seems to mean “as long as you don’t flaunt your homosexuality ““ hold hands, wear a rainbow pin, etc. ““ you’ll be safe.”
One of the latest voices opposing the laws is related to the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, to take place in Moscow: Andy Cohen Turns Down Miss Universe Hosting Gig in Russia.
… Cohen will not be taking his regular post as cohost of the 2013 Miss Universe competition, which will be held on Nov. 9 at the Crocus City Hall in Moscow, Russia.
The Watch What Happens Live star told his friend and pageant cohost of the past two years, E! News’ Giuliana Rancic, that he turned it down because “˜their discriminatory policies make it unsafe for the gays who live there and gays coming to work or visit.’
And as with the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, there are efforts to have the pageant moved out of Russia.
Another response via Pink News:
Pride House, an international coalition of LGBT sport and human rights groups has begun an initiative calling on everybody present at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, to show their commitment to inclusive sport by people of the same sex holding hands. …
Konstanin Yablotskiy from the Russian LGBT Sports Federation is part of Pride House International, and was instrumental in conceptualizing the Same-Sex Hand-Holding Initiative.
The IOC responses seem to change almost daily. From LGBT Nation:
A high ranking official with the … IOC … told LGBTQ Nation … that published reports that the IOC would punish LGBT athletes or allies for acts such as wearing pride pins or holding hands, are “˜misleading’ and “˜mischaracterized.’ …
The official said that (IOC) Rule 50 applies to “˜egregious’ behavior, and that a protest or demonstration from the podium, such as an athlete openly denouncing the Russian Government or an impromptu display during an event or the opening or closing ceremonies, would be seen as a violation of the rule. …
LGBTQ Nation also confirmed from two Olympic officials that, to date, there has been no advisement or directive warning Olympians from wearing pride pins, arm bands or any other display of LGBT solidarity … .
Regardless, the official said, any incidents would be evaluated on an case by case basis and that a “˜sensible approach’ would be taken “˜depending on what was said or done.’
Well that’s perfectly hazy.
In other sports news, World Football Insider has this:
(Russia World Cup chief Alexey) Sorokin, who is CEO of the Russia 2018 organising committee, told INSIDER the law “˜has been largely misinterpreted”¦ it is designed against active propaganda of homosexuality, not against homosexuality itself. That is a big difference’.
“˜Would you like a World Cup where naked people are running around displaying their homosexuality? The answer to that is quite obvious,’ he said.
“˜The Olympics and World Cup are not a stage for various views… not for Nazis, not for any other ways of life. It should be about football and nothing else.
I suppose displays of nudity and Nazis-ism would be, to use the IOC’s term, “egregious,” and the former how Sorokin envisions the way the homosexuals would engage in “active propaganda.” But I’m not sure it provides a solid basis for athletes or visitors, World Cup or Olympics, in distinguishing between “propaganda of homosexuality” and “homosexuality itself.”
Here the U.S., Nancy Pelosi added her thoughts, in a tweet. Via America Blog Gay:
“˜Russia’s decision to criminalize equality is outrageous ““ worst prejudices shouldn’t threaten world’s best athletes at #Sochi014.’
Another home response, from Pat Buchanan. At Right Wing Watch:
… Pat Buchanan defends Russian president Vladimir Putin’s persecution of gay people and political prosecution of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot, saying that Putin is just “˜trying to re-establish the Orthodox Church as the moral compass of the nation it had been for 1,000 years before Russia fell captive to the atheistic and pagan ideology of Marxism.’
According to America Blog, Buchanan also said:
“˜Only yesterday, homosexual sodomy, which Thomas Jefferson said should be treated like rape, was outlawed in many states and same-sex marriage was regarded as an absurdity.’
Making it clear he, and apparently Jefferson, are concerned only with “homosexual sodomy” is at least a clear statement.
Meanwhile, Olympic corporate sponsors are mostly taking the cautious route. At Buzzfeed:
As discussions about Russia’s anti-LGBT laws dominate coverage of the lead-up to the planned Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, only one corporate sponsor of the Olympics, General Electric, is pressing the International Olympic Committee publicly for action in support of human rights … .
In contrast to the lack of clarity, and perhaps courage, regarding if and how Russia’s anti-LGBT laws will be enforced, one U.S. athlete was very clear. At LGBT Nation:
U.S. middle distance runner Nick Symmonds on Tuesday dedicated (his) silver medal at the World Track & Field Championships in Moscow to his gay and lesbian friends back home, becoming the first athlete to openly criticize Russia’s controversial anti-gay “˜propaganda’ law while on Russian soil.
From Think Progress:
Whether the government would enforce the law against Symmonds is unclear, though it seems unlikely that it would take on such a high-profile incident. The International Association of Athletic Federations, track and field’s governing body, has taken an even more hands-off approach to the law than the International Olympic Committee, calling on Russia to reconsider the law but also saying it was “˜no problem’ and that athletes must respect it, at least publicly, during the World Championships.
So … a kind of LGBT Russian Roulette is being played. Not a world class kind of game at all.
(Russian Roulette photo (edited) Via Good50X70)