National and International Reaction to Russia’s anti-gay laws Mounts
With the Winter Olympics fast approaching, the Russian government continues to back its anti-gay legislation, prompting international outcry.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a ban on “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” in late June. The ban includes views expressed online or in news media and those who are found in violation can face steep fines. According to lgbtqnation.com, “gay pride rallies also are banned, as are public [displays] of affection, including holding hands, between persons of the same gender.”
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko explained in an interview with R-Sport, gay athletes can come to Sochi and participate in the games, but they will not be exempt from the law. “If he goes out into the streets and starts to propagandize, then of course he will be held accountable,” said Mutko.
The International Olympic Committee insists Russia must obey the Olympic charter, but Russian authorities have yet to back down on the ban. “We have to make the Russians fully understand – even the whole world understand- in the Olympic charter it says very clearly sports is a human right,” said C.K. Wu, an IOC executive board member, in an interview with LGBTQ Nation.
International protests against the Olympics have taken place since Russia signed the ban into law. On Monday, Lansing, Mich. City Council voted unanimously to end its “sister cities” relationship with St. Petersburg. According to MLive.com, the resolution, “calls for removal of all mentions of St. Petersburg from Lansing’s website and signage” and “strongly condemns the widespread abuses of human rights.” St. Petersburg has been removed from the Lansing city website, but has yet to be completely removed from roadway signs.
Also announced Monday, Canada’s refugee board will “favorably review asylum claims by LGBT people fleeing persecution in Russia.” Violence against gay Russians has increased dramatically, with strong hostility shared by the Russian government and the Russian Orthodox Church.
In a 2012 poll conducted by Levanda – an independent Russian non-governmental polling and sociological research organization-15 percent of 900 Russian LGBT people said they had been physically attacked at least once in the previous 10 months. The poll also found that nearly 50 percent of Russians believe homosexuals should be given medical or psychological treatment, with 5 percent saying they should be “destroyed”.
The Olympic committee remains hopeful Russia will follow the Olympic charter, but if not, they do have the power to change the venue to another city. “We make it very clear from the very beginning if they don’t follow [the charter] we have to remove the games to other cities,” said Wu. “This should become a basic qualification if you want to apply to host the games.”
Maya Earls and is a second-year journalism student at Virginia Commonwealth University. She was born in Los Angeles, and moved to Richmond in 2000. Her first journalism experience was managing social media for the Rock4Life benefit concert.She enjoys exploring Richmond on her bike and finding good views of the river. Her favorite past-time is watching people dance in their cars from her apartment window.
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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