Yesterday, June 29th, also the day of the Chicago Gay Pride Parade 2013, the Russian President (Vladimir Putin) signed a law (I'm referring to it as a Russian gay ban) that is changing the path of human rights and the progress we have made as a species on this planet.
According to the new law, and just in time for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia has banned ANYTHING considered pro-gay including (but not limited to) gay affirmative speech, wearing rainbows, same sex couples holding hands, etc. This law also included what happens to those of us who wish to travel there with our partner. According to Putin's law, the Russian gay ban permits the government to arrest and detain gay (or pro-gay) foreigners up to 14 days before being expelled. So if you have family in Russia, or were planning on seeing the Olympic Winter Games...screw that idea if you are in a same sex relationship or support them!
I remember during the last Summer Olympics and seeing the proud and out athletes compete for glory and to bring home the gold to their native countries. This time around, if an athlete wears a rainbow sticker, says they are gay, or kiss their partner after their event, well...they have now committed a CRIME in Russia. The Russian gay ban makes these actions illegal and it doesn't matter if the person just set an Olympic record for their sport.
This Russian gay ban follow years and years of hate crimes against gays, lesbians, trans, and bisexuals. Time and time again I have heard reports of attacks on queer identified individuals being beaten in Russia, with the police force doing nothing to help them. At the top of this post is a pic of a man being beaten by a group for being gay, and yet the only ones around the group are people taking photos. No one was there to help!
On top of the ridiculousness of the Russian gay ban, is the fact that the International Olympic Committee has done nothing about this! The Human Rights Watch, along with several other GLBTQ groups, have sent letters to the IOC demanding them to post pone the Olympics or host it in another city. While this might be too late in the game to do this, they should issue a statement on behalf of the gay athletes, on behalf of equal rights, and on the behalf of the mission of the Olympics. Here is a copy of the 2010 "Fundamental Principals of Olympism", in which I put in bold key points:
1. Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of
body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a
way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example and respect for
universal fundamental ethical principles.
2. The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man,
with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.
3. The Olympic Movement is the concerted, organised, universal and permanent action, carried
out under the supreme authority of the IOC, of all individuals and entities who are inspired by
the values of Olympism. It covers the five continents. It reaches its peak with the bringing
together of the world’s athletes at the great sports festival, the Olympic Games. Its symbol is
five interlaced rings.
4. The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing
sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual
understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. The organisation, administration
and management of sport must be controlled by independent sports organisations.
5. Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion,
politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.
6. Belonging to the Olympic Movement requires compliance with the Olympic Charter and
recognition by the IOC.
So....Putin, did you not get a copy of this? I'm very confused why you think that the Russian gay ban would be supported by the IOC principals. Never before have I been so angry at the Olympic games for their quiet during a storm of discrimination. It's time for you to stand up and say to the world: Since Russia is going to act like a child, then we will treat them like a child and remove the Winter Olympic games from Sochi. Yes this might anger all those who have trained their whole lives for this chance, but it's time to stop saying it's ok and say, NO!