Anti-LGBTQ Issues Continue to Plague 2014 Sochi Olympics
As the 2014 Olympics in Sochi grow closer, Russia and it’s anti-gay laws are getting more and more attention worldwide.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been frantically trying to appease guest countries who disapprove of Russia’s anti-gay laws, all while standing by his country’s legislation.
According to The Telegraph, Putin said, “We have a ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia. I want to emphasize this. Among children. These are completely different things — a ban on something, or a ban on such relationships or a ban on propaganda of such relationships.”
Putin’s also defended his country’s laws by saying that Russia had a sudden positive birth rate since the laws’ inception, and that population growth is vital to Russia’s development.
While repeatedly insisting that the laws are only against homosexual propaganda, not homosexual relationships, Putin also said that protests against these laws would not be considered propaganda, but a recent arrest shows otherwise.
According to the New York Daily News, a Russian protester was arrested last weekend for displaying a rainbow flag as the Olympic Torch Relay passed through Voronezh.
The protester, Pavel Lebedev, spoke with the Associated Press and bemoaned the growing homophobia in his country.
“Hosting the games here contradicts the basic principles of the Olympics, which is to cultivate tolerance,” Lebedev said.
Countries that disapprove of Russia’s intolerance aren’t just standing by and shaking their fingers at Russia’s laws.
Per The Independent, the United States may be preparing to prop two warships out in the Black Sea, which might be the most American thing ever done. Sochi borders the Black Sea on the Western coast of Russia.
Holland’s Kleintje Pils, a brass band that entertains crowds at Olympic events, plans to play LGBTQ anthem Y.M.C.A., which might be the most Dutch thing ever done. Band leader Ruud Bakker said they plan to play it as a signal of their disapproval of Russia’s laws, but they don’t hope to turn the sporting event into a “political game.
Despite all this, Putin has remained steadfast in his position that homosexuals will be welcomed at the Olympics.
“There are no fears for people with this nontraditional orientation who plan to come to Sochi as guests or participants,” Putin said in an interview with BBC. He went on to claim sexual orientation does not matter to him personally.
“I myself know some people who are gay. We’re on friendly terms. I’m not prejudiced in any way,” Putin told BBC.
“If you want my personal attitude, I would tell you that I don’t care about a person’s sexual orientation. I’ve honored several members of the gay community in this country but for their personal achievements, regardless of their sexual orientation.”
On the other side of the planet, U.S. President Barack Obama has remained tight-lipped and let his actions do the talking. Per LGBTQ Nation, these Olympics will be the first since 2000 that America will not send a president, former president, first lady or vice president to the Olympics.
Instead, Obama has selected a delegation featuring Billie Jean King, a former tennis Olympian, and Caitlin Cahow, who currently plays on the U.S. women’s hockey team. Both Cahow and King are openly gay, and King said she was honored to be among the delegation.
“I am equally proud to stand with the members of the LGBT community in support of all athletes who will be competing in Sochi and I hope these Olympic Games will indeed be a watershed moment for the universal acceptance of all people,” King said.
Most recently, Sochi’s Mayor, Anatoly Pakhomov, told the BBC that his little burg in the mountains doesn’t have any gay people. “it’s not accepted here in the Caucasus where we live. We do not have them in our city,” said Pakhomov.
This stands in contrast to a CNN feature which examined gay nightlife in Sochi. Have a look at their video below:
Regardless of which way Putin’s ambivalence toward the LGBTQ community swings, more and more controversy is likely to flare up as we get closer to the opening ceremony on February 7th.
I’m a spring intern at RVA Mag and GayRVA. I recently got my degree in journalism from Virginia Tech, where I also wrote for the Collegiate Times newspaper. I spent the first half of my life as an impatient New Yorker, but I grew up here in Richmond, buying skateboards from Dominion, seeing shows at Alley Katz, and watching VCU Rams basketball games. I like everything bagels, wasting my money on clothes I don’t need, moombahton music, and cycling. I probably fell down putting on my pants this morning.
With the hype surrounding Russia’s anti-gay laws, one may have missed that the Sochi 2014 Olympics have started. They have indeed begun, and have become the platform for a number of supporters of the LGBTQ community to show their discontent with the Russian government despite strict local laws and rules in the Olympic Charter. The [...]February 12, 2014
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