By Melanie Nathan, January 11, 2014.
The United States State Department has issued a travel advisory warning Americans of the dangers in attending the February Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The alert advises Americans about the anti-gay laws where Russia criminalizes so called “propaganda” about homosexuality. Indeed the notice also warns that terrorists have threatened to attack the Games as well as concerns about the inferior quality of medical care in the region.
Russian officials have said there will be no discrimination against gay athletes or fans, but there is much ambiguity about enforcement of the law. And of course, folks this is Russia and we are dealing with Putin so who knows what will really go down! Bottom line – travel to Russia at your own risk.
State Department travel alerts are routine advisories “about short-term conditions” that the government believes “pose significant risks to the security of U.S. citizens.” For more serious situations, the government issues “travel warnings” urging Americans to reconsider their plans.
The State Department said Americans should be mindful of the gay propaganda law. Foreigners convicted of violating the law face fines and jail, according to the State Department:
“The U.S. government understands that this law applies to both Russian citizens and foreigners in Russia. Russian citizens found guilty of violating the law could face a fine of up to 100,000 rubles ($3,100). Foreign citizens face similar fines, up to 14 days in jail, and deportation.”
The United States is sending a delegation to the Olympics which includes high-profile gay former athletes, such as openly lesbian tennis legend Billie Jean King, but the State Department advisory warned about publicly advocating gay rights.
“The law makes it a crime to promote LGBT equality in public,” the department said, “but lacks concrete legal definitions for key terms.”
Billie Jean King and the U.S.A. delegation delivers a victory to Putin:
According to Media reports, Billie Jean King believes that standing up to discrimination is the best way to combat it, so she had no hesitation in joining the US delegation for the Sochi Olympics:
King will help lead the delegation in the opening ceremony on February 7 at the Sochi Games, which has been overshadowed by a recent anti-gay law in Russia, calls for a boycott and criticism from human rights groups. “It took about 10 seconds,” King said this week about deciding to go to Sochi.
“It sends a strong message that America is very diverse. We are here, and surrogates as athletes and gay athletes. I thought it would be sweet to wave some flags or something. But they can get in big trouble and have their medal taken away and also be sent home… We reflect part of America. Maybe we’ll be a voice for people who don’t feel they can be a voice yet.”
I could not disagree more. The Russians know we are diverse. We do not need to go to Sochi to tell them that. And they abhor it. They abhor homosexuality and many are Nationalists. The masses that support Putin and the anti-gay laws do not care about diversity and have no qualms about laughing at it in our American faces.
In fact if Ms. King were to read the myriad of comments that I have allowed up on this very BLOG from those forming a vast group of Russians who support the torture and persecution on Gays in Russia and who express their disdain for homosexuality, she will see that no amount of “Hello we are here and we are queer” and rainbow flag waving will change their stance. It is short sighted and unproductive for Ms. King and her band of three to think that they are doing anything more than delivering to Putin an anti-gay victory. They are playing right into his hands.
As I have noted before, using the example of Apartheid and the boycotts of South African sports and athletes, no amount of “look we are black and we are here” delegations to South Africa would have changed the Afrikaner Apartheid mindset. It took boycotts and sanctions for that to happen.
I believe Ms. King would have made a much bigger statement had she turned down the appointment to the delegation with a comment such as “In supporting the persecuted Russian LGBT community, I refuse to set foot in Russia until the Anti-Propaganda law is repealed.” This would have had a much greater impact that showing up in Russia to say we exist and we are diverse. They know that and they have stated over and over again all over the internet and in many venues that they do not care how we conduct our sordid lives in our own countries, that they do not want homosexuals in Russia.
Again any self respecting LGBT person from the West ought to have the balls to defy Putin by refusing to participate in the Sochi games. Read More
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LGBT Activists in altercation with Olympic Gold Medalist on Anti-Gay SOCHI
Queer Nation & GetEqual Disrupt “Road to Sochi” Events Amid LGBT Safety Concerns
By Melanie Nathan, January 10, 2014
Three members of Queer Nation and GetEqual Massachusetts disrupted the opening event of the US Olympic Committee’s Road to Sochi tour stop in Boston, inquiring about the safety of LGBT Olympians, Spectators & Russians. READ MORE