If you are gay or transgender, know anyone who is gay or transgender and/or support the rights of LGBT people, the 2014 Sochi, Russia Winter Olympics is not where you want to be. In direct contrast to the Olympic spirit where “the practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind,” Russia’s Sports Minister confirmed that the country intends to enforce its laws against visiting LGBT athletes, trainers and fans. So leave your rainbow paraphernalia at home and don’t ask, don’t tell.
In June of this year, Russian President, Vladimir Putin signed an anti-propaganda bill targeting non-traditional relationships. He says,
“It’s not about imposing some sort of sanctions on homosexuality…It’s about protecting children from such information. Certain countries think that there is no need to protect [children] from this…But we are going to provide such protection the way that State Duma lawmakers have decided. We ask you not to interfere in our governance.”
According to the bill, publishing information about same-sex relationships will warrant fines of 4,000-5,000 rubles (£85-105) for individuals, 40,000-50,000 rubles (£850-1050) for officials, and 400-500,000 (£8,500-10,500) rubles for businesses. Foreigners will not only be fined, but face administrative arrest up to 15 days and eventual deportation.
So, if you are a gay athlete who has just won an Olympic medal, remember to celebrate your incredible achievement with only heterosexual family members and fans. Certainly do not kiss your partner of 10 years!
And gay parents – do not hug your child in celebration of triumphs or in comfort of disappointments. You are exactly why the anti-propaganda bill was signed. Your love and commitment to each other and to your child definitely represents a non-traditional relationship.
“Non-traditional relationship” is awfully vague, Russia. Does it only apply to LGBT relationships? How about couples of different races? Blended families? Marriages in which the husband and wife are of different faiths? What about relationships where both parents work? How about when a woman financially supports the family? Stay-at-home dads beware!
The Olympic athletes have trained long and hard and deserve to compete in an atmosphere where they can focus on their goals. They should be able to be themselves, as should their trainers and coaches, their family members, friends and fans. Sexual orientation has absolutely NOTHING to do with the Olympics but by threatening to enforce its laws against visiting LGBT athletes, trainers and fans, Russia has taken away their rights. They will be participating in an Olympic atmosphere of discrimination. That is not right and I am not the only one who thinks so. There are two petitions on the go: One suggesting that the 2014 Olympics be moved from Sochi to Vancouver, which was the host city of the 2010 Olympics. and one urging sponsors of the Sochi Olympics to condemn their anti-gay laws. I have provided the links to both petitions below.
Russia does not recognize same-sex relationships, does not allow same-sex couples to marry or adopt and does not allow gays to openly serve in the military. Here is a checklist of LGBT rights all over the world.
Read George Takei’s article entitled It’s Time to Move the Olympics which explains his reasoning behind his call to have the 2014 Winter Olympics moved from Russia to Canada and then sign the petition to have the 2014 Winter Olympics moved from Sochi, Russia to Vancouver, Canada http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/international-olympic-committee-ioc-relocate-the-2014-winter-games-to-vancouver-2. At the time of my writing there were already 138, 447 signatures on this petition.
Here is another related petition urging sponsors of the 2014 Olympics to condemn Russia’s anti-gay laws http://www.change.org/petitions/stand-against-russia-s-brutal-crackdown-on-gay-rights-urge-winter-olympics-2014-sponsors-to-condemn-anti-gay-laws. This petition will be delivered to Coca Cola, Samsung, Panasonic, Procter & Gamble and VISA. At the time of my writing there were already 103, 206 signatures on this petition.