Sochi 2014, boycotting for gay rights?
Russia will host next Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi (Feb. 7-23 2014). But several international personalities and foreign government are threatening to boycott those games because of Moscow’s new “gay propaganda” law.
The Kremlin has toughened up, last June, the legislation against the “promotion” of the LGBT life-style to children, through media, the internet, viral adverts and also rallies. The law states that Russian individuals can be fined up to 5,000 rubles ($152) for distributing such information.
“There is no infringement of individuals’ [rights] based on their sexual orientation, neither at the Olympics or up until the Olympics, and there will not be after. This legislation does not provide for it,” Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, who is in charge of planning the Olympic Games, stated on Wednesday.
“No one is forbidding an athlete with non-traditional sexual orientation from coming to Sochi, but if he goes onto the street and starts propagandizing it, then of course he will be held accountable,” has declared, sports minister Vitaly Mutko, to RIA news agency. According to this legislation, foreigners, who would facilitate the formation of “non-traditional” sexual concepts in the minds of children, can be fined up to 100,000 rubles ($3,000), be detained in prison for up to 15 days and deported from the country.
British actor and writer Stephen Fry has issued an urgent call for a wide ban of the Olympic Games. In an open letter addressed to British Prime Minister David Cameron and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), he wrote: “An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 in Sochi is simply essential. Stage them elsewhere in Utah, Lillehammer, anywhere you like”. Russian President Vladimir Putin “may claim that the ‘values’ of Russia are not the ‘values’ of the West, but this is absolutely in opposition to Peter the Great’s philosophy, and against the hopes of millions of Russians,” He added that Russia is making “scapegoats” of LGBT individuals – “just as Hitler did Jews.”
Academy Award-winning actress Tilda Swinton, has also defended the Russian LGBT community by posing with the rainbow flag in from of the Kremlin. Widely spread throughout social medias, the picture came with this statement: “In solidarity. From Russia with love.”
German Minister of Justice, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, has been quoted by Spiegel magazine: “Nobody is forced to participate . . . and every politician should also think about how he or she responds to this exclusion policy towards minorities.”
American President Barack Obama has also commented on Tuesday to host Jay Leno on NBC’s “The Tonight Show.”: “I think they [Putin and Russia] understand that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics, we wouldn’t tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently”.
After the international scandal and the possible ban on the Sochi Games and also on Russian vodka, Moscow backpedalled and assured that no foreign competitors or spectators of the Sochi 2014 games would be affected by those laws. The IOC confirmed that information.
Let’s just hope that the international spectators and athletes will be able, through the competition, to display their traditional and “non-traditional” love to Russian children. This wave of “свобода” (freedom) would certainly influence them but more importantly make them understand that love should never be the target to any kind of restriction. Leaving a message in situ would certainly be better than not going at all. Sochi 2014 could then well be wave of “свобода” (freedom) in a wonderful nation, sadly tainted by corruption and smothered by a government who is crushing the individuality and hopes of the new generation.