The Sochi Winter Olympics will begin on the 7th February, but there has been some concern raised about whether gay athletes and spectators will be safe, given Russia’s new anti-gay law.
On June 30th 2013, Russian government passed a law that banned ‘propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors’. Confused? So are the Russian LGBT community.
This vague and ambiguous law means that Gay Pride parades have been banned, fines have been given to gay activist groups and ‘gay bashing’ and other attacks on Russian civilians are becoming commonplace.
‘Gay propaganda’ might even be something as simple as a same-sex couples holding hands in the street.
Individuals that attempt to confront this homophobia, often through peaceful protests or art, are dubbed ‘extremists’, as they ‘incite social and religious hatred’.
Maybe it’s because I’m gay that I think we should all have the same opportunities, but someone once said to take the word gay and swap it for any other minority group, like ‘Muslim’s should not be able to marry’ or ‘disabled people should not be allowed to show public displays of affection’.
I would not accept any of these minority groups being singled out and penalised by it’s government, or made to feel inadequate and publicly abused, so why is it acceptable for the LGBT community to be treated this way?
Foreign citizens or stateless persons engaging in propaganda are subject to a fine of 4,000 to 5,000 rubles, or they can be deported from the Russian Federation and/or serve 15 days in jail. If a foreigner uses the media or the internet to engage in propaganda, the fines increase to 50,000-100,000 rubles or a 15-day detention with subsequent deportation from Russia.
Unsurprisingly, there has been just concern from human rights and LGBT organisations, calling for a boycott of the Winter Olympics, until it can be ensured that gay athletes/individuals will be safe.
But, as always, money trumps human suffrage.
However, Obama has a cunning plan; let’s not boycott the Winter Olympics – they’ll be expecting that – no, lets send gay LGBT ambassadors.
I don’t want to seem picky, but if Russia were to rule that black people and activist groups could be imprisoned, fined and subsequently attacked for being ‘openly’ black, I would not send a load of black ambassadors to that very same country.
It just seems as though our world leaders want to have their cake and eat it too; lets make a statement to keep the gays happy, but not so much as to piss off Putin.
I question whether this is actually enough to ensure the long-term safety of Russia’s LGBT community and it’s visitors.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, members of the gay activist band Pussy Riot, are currently serving two-year prison sentences for performing an anti-Putin protest in February, 2012.
Activist Dmitri Isakov was convicted in the city of Kazan for breaching the law by standing in a public square in June, holding a sign that read ‘Being gay and loving gays is normal. Beating gays and killing gays is criminal’ (translation).
Is it o.k for gay Russian civilians to continually be victimised and treated as second class citizens?
If you actively support equality, please sign this petition to encourage Winter Olympic sponsors to take a stand against Russia’s anti-gay laws: https://www.change.org/petitions/stand-against-russia-s-brutal-crackdown-on-gay-rights-urge-winter-olympics-2014-sponsors-to-condemn-anti-gay-laws