The Russian government has given the International Olympic Committee “strong written assurance” that no one will be discriminated against for their sexual orientation because its anti-gay propaganda law isn’t discriminatory against homosexuals.
“The Russian Federation guarantees the fulfillment of its obligations before the International Olympic Committee in its entirety,” Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said in a letter to the IOC, obtained by the Associated Press. “These legislations apply equally to all persons, irrespective of their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, and cannot be regarded as discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
The vaguely worded anti-gay propaganda law, Kozak stressed, centers on the “restriction of information that promotes non-traditional sexual relationships among children.” However, it’s unclear if wearing a rainbow pin or carrying a tiny flag in solidarity with gay rights will violate the law, though the IOC also bans political gestures of any kind.
At the World Track and Field Championships in Moscow earlier this month, Swedish high jumper Emma Green-Tregaro painted her nails rainbow, which Russian pole vault star Yelena Isinbayeva called “unrespectful” of Russia.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, but the government continues to vilify and marginalize its LGBT population, while violent hate crimes go unchecked and unpunished. Kozak says the Russian constitution prohibits discrimination against anyone based on sex, race or religion, but sexual orientation automatically makes one a second-class citizen. And advocating for equality is essentially illegal.
So it’s fine and dandy for Russia to say that it won’t discriminate against homosexuals at the Sochi Olympics, but the very existence of an anti-gay propaganda law runs contrary to that. And anyone who thinks the Games will be discrimination-free is a fucking idiot.
“We have today received strong written reassurances from the Russian government that everyone will be welcome at the games in Sochi regardless of their sexual orientation,” IOC President Jacques Rogge said in a statement.