The problems for the International Olympic Committee and 2014 Olympic Winter Games host Sochi, Russia, aren’t going away. The various kinds of actions and protests against Russia’s anti-LGBT laws continue, coming from such diverse directions as Sen. Barbara Boxer and a march of 10,000 in Copenhagen. All the work that Vladimir Putin put into Russia hosting an array of international events, including the World Games, Olympics, International Film Festival, the Miss Universe pageant and the World Dog Show has run into big problems. No doubt the hope was to showcase Russia to the world. But in the last several weeks, what’s shown up most clearly are the anti-LGBT laws, both in terms of what they mean for Russian LGBTs and allies, and for visitors.
What follows is just a few of the things happening.
Sen. Barbara Boxer sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday morning to say that recent anti-LGBT legislation passed is “˜an affront to fundamental principles of equality.’
The Copenhagen Post reports … :
“˜Ten thousand people got an early start on Copenhagen Pride festivities on Tuesday with a demonstration against Russia’s recently passed anti-gay law.
At about the 1:20 mark, see how a humdrum pedestrian crossing is rainbow’ed.
Also this week, via GLAAD,
Actor and screenwriter Wentworth Miller … rejected an invitation to attend the St. Petersburg International Film Festival, citing Russia’s anti-LGBT laws. In a letter to the Festival’s Director, the “˜Prison Break’ star stated that “˜as a gay man, I must decline.’
That was him coming out, by the way.
At the recent World Athletic Games, in Russia,
High jumper Emma Green Tregaro and sprinter Mao Hjelmer, who are from Sweden, painted their fingernails in rainbow colors as they competed in the World Athletic Championships.
Swedish athletic officials then nixed the rainbow colors, but Green Tregaro next used red, a sign, she said, of love. This incident apparently also resulted in the Swedish Olympic Committee ruling that
… political protests against Russia’s anti-gay legislation will not be tolerated at the Sochi Olympics next year.
At Think Progress, an LGBT sports group, Athlete Ally, petitioned
… the … (IOC) to choose a more LGBT-friendly host for the 2020 Summer Olympics … (and) to “˜live the values of the Olympic Charter’ by giving the Games to Madrid.’ …
Spain boasts some of the most robust LGBT protections in the world … .
Think Progress updates the Miss Universe story, writing that while the Organization condemned the anti-LGBT laws, it “doesn’t move the pageant.”
Which is still better than the IOC, which seems to be stuck in a back and forth with Russia, the IOC asking for assurances and Putin saying “sure, but our laws will be enforced.”
At America Blog Gay, John Aravosis continues to gather related stories from around the world. A few:
More on Russian television trying to drop a gay journalist off along a highway in the middle of nowhere as retaliation for him speaking out against Dear Leader Putin. …
Tour operators to Russia are canceling trips … .
Russia may lose world dog show after American Kennel Club asks world body to move dog show from Moscow in 2016. …
Russian embassy in Norway dogged by rainbow sidewalk too! (First, it was Sweden.)
Also from Aravosis: “Russian sports editor praises “˜fair-skinned’ Russians’ victory over “˜black-skinned’ foreigners.” It’s not just LGBTs at least some Russians are attacking, verbally if not physically.
To this point, the IOC just doesn’t seem able or willing to demand guarantees of LGBT safety, or maybe Russian officials are simply out-playing them. The IOC is acting as if they either don’t have any options, or aren’t willing to use them. From Zack Ford, at Think Progress:
A new letter from Russian officials to the International Olympic Committee provides no new answers about how the country’s law banning “˜gay propaganda’ will be applied to those participating in the 2014 Winter Games. Though the IOC’s response suggests that gay athletes and attendees at the Olympics will be safe, the statement actually suggests that not even LGBT allies will be protected.
The letter from Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak offers this carefully crafted quote: The anti-gay law “˜cannot be regarded as discrimination based on sexual orientation.’ The IOC suggests this means that “˜everyone will be welcome at the Games in Sochi regardless of their sexual orientation.’
ABC News reports:
“˜The Russian Federation guarantees the fulfillment of its obligations before the International Olympic Committee in its entirety,’ (Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry) Kozak said.
However, Kozak did not back down on the issue of the new law, which penalizes anyone who distributes information aimed at persuading minors that “˜nontraditional’ relationships are normal or attractive.
As Bil Browning, at Bilerico, put it: “Russia Gives Worthless Written “˜Assurances’ to IOC.”
Finally, Aravosis checks out an interview by Chris Hayes with
Russian journalist and lesbian activist Masha Gessen, who wrote a critically-acclaimed biography of Russian President Vladimir Putin …, appeared on Chris Hayes’ show on MSNBC (Thursday) … night.
Masha did an amazing job explaining the current situation in Russia, how the international community can help LGBT Russians, and why the current campaign against Russian vodka and the Olympics matters.
During the broadcast, Masha told Chris that over the past few decades the trajectory in Russia was moving in the direction of LGBT progress. But then in the last year and a half it’s been moving backwards in terms of both homophobia and violence. …
Masha goes on to say that the reason Russia was able to move so quickly in the direction of homophobia is because no one was watching, the world didn’t pay attention. Russia figured it could scapegoat gays and get away with it. And it’s been a big surprise to the Russian authorities that we’ve fought back …’ .
And we remember: while the focus on Russia’s anti-LGBT laws and actions is very important in itself, it’s also a call to look around at all the other nations where the treatment of LGBTs is as bad, or worse, than by Putin and company.
(Rainbow Crossing Copenhagen Capture Via Local Eyes DK You Tube)