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20 Feb 2014

How bad were the Winter Olympics in Sochi for LGBT? We evaluate the highs and the lows

 

The Winter Olympics in Sochi have been overshadowed by Russia’s ‘Gay Propaganda Law’ and the plight of LGBTs in the country. The Gay Propaganda law, passed in June last year, makes it illegal to suggest that gay relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships or to distribute material on gay rights. 
Since the law was enacted gay rights activists have been arrested and homophobic hate crimes have increased. However, despite widespread condemnation of the human rights abuses in Russia, the Winter Olympics in Sochi took place as planned.
As the games draw to a close at the end of this week, we’ve got a roundup of some of the good and the bad to come out of the Winter Olympics in Russia.

The Winter Olympics in Sochi have been overshadowed by Russia’s ‘Gay Propaganda Law’ and the plight of LGBTs in the country. The Gay Propaganda law, passed in June last year, makes it illegal to suggest that gay relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships or to distribute material on gay rights. 

 

Since the law was enacted gay rights activists have been arrested and homophobic hate crimes have increased. However, despite widespread condemnation of the human rights abuses in Russia, the Winter Olympics in Sochi took place as planned.

 

As the games draw to a close at the end of this week, we’ve got a roundup of some of the good and the bad to come out of the Winter Olympics in Russia.

 

The Good: 7 openly LGBT athletes brave Sochi

Openly LGBT athletes make up less than 1 percent of the athletes attending Sochi, however we must take our hats off to them. Our favourite? Dutch snowboarder Cheryl Maas. 

 

The out lesbian with a wife and child has spoken out about her displeasure of Sochi being chosen as the location for the Olympics. She performed her own protest by shoving her rainbow unicorn gloves in front of the camera after she finished her run.

 

International Olympic Committee hints that future bidders will have to abide by anti-discrimination rule

There has been an increasing call to make conforming to Principle 6 (‘Sport does not discriminate on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise’) a part of the bidding rules. Current and former athletes, including former tennis champion Martina Navratilova as well as pop star Rihanna, are among the big names to have publicly spoken out in favour of Principle 6.

 

When IOC spokesperson Mark Adams was asked by reporters if Principle 6 could become part of the bidding criteria, he replied "It (Principle 6) is not something that is specifically looked at but if there is a groundswell of opinion it could be."

 

He also asserted that all though sexuality is not mentioned by name in the charter, “we have made it absolutely crystal clear that Principle 6 covers all forms of discrimination.”

 

Pressure from inside and outside Russia means that anti-gay law now faces court scrutiny

Russia’s Constitutional Court will evaluate Russia’s gay propaganda bill. Gay rights activists are hoping judges will rule against the law banning the promotion of homosexuality. They say they are giving Russian courts its ‘last chance’ to recognize the homophobic legislation is in contradiction of basic human rights given to the LGBT community in Russia’s constitution.

 

The Constitutional Court has agreed to examine and evaluate the new law but it is likely to side with Vladimir Putin and the State Duma who unanimously passed the bill last year. If this last chance fails, human rights activists will take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

 

The Bad: Asian Leaders let the side down with both Xi from China and Abe of Japan attending Sochi

Both Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping appeared not to be bothered by the international ruckus over Russia’s law restricting gay rights. Unlike US president Barack Obama, are French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron, both Japan and China’s leaders made it to the opening ceremony.

 

Amnesty International noted that this action reflected the state of gay rights in both countries; the lack of public discourse on gay rights in China and the fact that minority rights in Japan lack behind the West.

 

Pussy Riot in jail again after demonstrating in Sochi

Protest group and band Pussy Riot found themselves back behind bars (although only briefly) just a couple of months after being released from their 2 year prison term.

 

Two members of the band were in the city to raise awareness of the federal anti-gay law and recording a musical film called ‘Putin Will Teach You To Love The Motherland’. Both women said police used force to throw them in a police van. They were freed without charge after ten hours.

 

The IOC defends the ejection of transgender gay rights activist from Olympic venue

Activist Vladimir Luxuria, a former Italian MP, was briefly held by Russian police on Sunday evening and was again escorted from the Olympic Park on Monday evening. Luxuria was dressed in rainbow attire and was brandishing a sign that said ‘It’s OK to be Gay.’

 

Spokesperson Mark Adams confirmed that the transgender activist had been demonstrating inside ice hockey venue and had been escorted out and detained. He added that “the Olympic Park, the Olympic venues are not for us, the place for demonstrations, whether we are sympathetic or not.”

Reader's Comments

Comment #1 was deleted by its author on 2014-02-21 07:42
2. 2014-02-21 15:52  
For the sake of healthy sportsmanship and humanity, what does sexuality got to do with it, especially in the spirit of Olympics which promotes equal and fair competition..?
Olympics' origin ethics stress on fostering ties and binding athletes from five different continents, from a varieties of cultures and religions, different races and languages, and now a diverse of gender and sexuality, and maybe beyond humanity in the future.., all through common sports.
3. 2014-02-23 05:45  
The IOC is late to the game. The Olympics should never have been awarded to Russia or China. And if what the article says comes to pass, they won't be hosting them again until they join the 21st Century.
4. 2014-02-23 23:18  
The IOC has deemed itself as useless as the UN in caring at all about the human race.
Comment #5 was deleted by its author on 2014-02-24 18:37
Comment #6 was deleted by its author on 2014-02-24 18:37
Comment #7 was deleted by its author on 2014-02-24 18:36
8. 2014-02-25 10:47  
The Sochi Olympics went off well. No gays were arrested. And as the above article points out, some gay athletes took part in the games unharmed. Olympic games are not made to be a gay parade. They bring people closer no matter what orientation. And the Sochi Olympics proved it.
9. 2014-02-25 23:36  
What I am about to say will be not be received well by my gay comrades on here. But, I did not like the idea that the LGBT community tried to make the Olympics into a Gay Pride Rally for their agendas. The only thing the Olympics and LGBT have in common are wonderful colors on their flag and logos. The Olympics is a sporting event. It has nothing to do with politics and other world issues. Yes, I agree that Russia and Putin need to wake up and join us in the 21st century. But, that is not going to happen. And, I was so tired of hearing about Pussy Riot. Their 15 minutes of fame was over long ago, much like Justin Bieber. The only reason they go so much air time on TV and the media was because the media thought it was fun to say "pussy" on the air and not get in trouble for it. If you condemn Russia for how they treat gays, you need to condemn 90% of the other nations in the world for their anti-LGBT stances. Many nations in Africa are kill gay people. America still can't get their religious heads out of their asses to recognize the bigotry and discrimination they inflict on their citizens. The article condemned China. Gays in China are bound by culture and tradition. They are not persecuted by the government any longer. They are bound by family obligations and centuries of traditions that bind them to marry a woman so that their parents will have some sort of care and social security in their aged years. Hate crimes against LGBT still exist in many developed nations in Europe. So, to blast Russia for their policies, without pointing fingers at other nations seems unjust to me. Russia had a good (not great) Olympics. Every Olympics is marred by controversy and scandal. Russia was not going to be any different.
Comment #10 was deleted by its author on 2014-02-25 23:39
11. 2014-02-26 15:44  
Well said, Nashboroguy!!! I loved the Russia Olympics as did my friends from all over the world. To some gays here I wanna say: it's cool you are keeping on fighting. But let's have a broader picture and stop being nitpicking)))
12. 2014-02-27 00:44  
In some ways the gay issue has become a new chapter in a cold war...

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