Even though boycotting the Winter Olympics generally describes how we feel about it anyway — the Summer Olympics, however, have our undivided attention — Russian gay rights activists are calling for even less attention to be lavished upon the quadrennial games in Sochi next year.
The proposed boycott is in response to the recently passed anti-gay propaganda law that imposes hefty fines for anyone promoting “non-traditional sexual relations.”
“LGBT people in Russia are scared, they live in fear, and we want people to be aware of the issue. If they feel strongly about human rights they should boycott the Olympics in Sochi,” Nina Long, co-president of the New York-based RUSA LGBT told RIA-Novosti in an interview. “We really want the LGBT community to know it’s unsafe to travel there.”
Russian-based gay rights activist Nikolai Alekseev would probably agree with Long, having called the law an “incitement to genocide.” The social climate only seems to be getting worse for the country’s LGBT population as illustrated by recent violence against homosexuals — including the murder of two men over their sexual orientation in the past two months. Not content to discriminate within its own borders, the Russian government also decided to impose a ban on international same-sex couples from adopting.
The International Olympic Committee released a statement after the passage of the anti-propaganda law that it would embrace openly gay athletes traveling to Sochi in 2014. “The IOC would like to reiterate our long commitment to non-discrimination against those taking part in the Olympic Games,” a spokesman told Gay Star News. “The IOC is an open organization and athletes of all orientations will be welcome at the Games.”
For Long, however, that dog just won’t luge. “They have to put up the statement like that, otherwise it’s an international scandal, but it’s a lie,” she said. “It’s just to make it hush-hush and nice on some international level.”
We’re not sure of the prospect of any athletes, openly gay or otherwise, boycotting the 2014 Olympics since it’s something they’ve trained for all their lives. Frequently disrobed gay speed skater Blake Skjellerup has expressed at least some trepidation, but hopes he can inspire “some positive change.” Meanwhile figure skater/unicorn Johnny Weir advised gay athletes to tone it down while in Russia — hopefully he was wearing a subtle latex catsuit featuring nipple cut-outs when he said it.
But what about you, dear and queer reader, do you intend to boycott the Sochi Olympics?
[Ed. note: Skjellerup was originally referred to as a gay Russian athlete but he’s from New Zealand. Still gay, though.]