Posted By Melanie Nathan, February 23, 2014.
New York, NY (February 23, 2014) — Nearly three dozen members of Queer Nation held a raucous protest at the United States Olympic Committee’s final “Road to Sochi Tour” event at Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan on February 23.
The action began just as the event began in historic Vanderbilt Hall, inside the terminal, with protesters chanting “Don’t Buy Putin’s Lies” and unfurling two banners, one reading “Don’t Buy Putin’s Lies” and the other reading “Boycott Homophobia.” Some members also carried signs that read “Gay Bashing Is Not An Olympic Sport.” The banners were hand-sewn by Gilbert Baker, the designer of the original rainbow flag.
Queer Nation was then forced out of the terminal by officers in the Metropolitan Transit Authority Police Department. The group briefly protested in front of a Road to Sochi tour truck on East 42nd Street and then marched to the west entrance of Grand Central Terminal, where the protest continued for over an hour. There were no arrests.
The Road to Sochi tour, which was produced by the US Olympic Committee, kicked off on October 29, 100 days before the Olympics, in Times Square, where Queer Nation disrupted the event. The tour traveled the country and was dogged by Queer Nation protests at its stops in Los Angeles and Boston.
Before and during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Russia, which ended on February 23, the USOC has made no comment on Russia’s continuing human rights violations, including its attacks on LGBT Russians.
“The end of the Olympics is not the end of our confrontation with the Russian government,” said Alexis Danzig, a member of Queer Nation. “We will not be silent and we will not forget that the USOC was silent.”
In June, the Russian government enacted legislation that effectively bans any pro-LGBT statement in public or private and on the Internet. In July, a law banning adoptions of Russian children by people from any jurisdiction that allows same sex marriage took effect.
A second recently enacted law bars adoption of Russian children by anyone living in a jurisdiction that allows same sex marriage. The Russian parliament recently proposed legislation that would allow the government to remove children from a household headed by a gay or lesbian parent. While that legislation has been withdrawn ahead of the Olympics, activists believe the parliament will reintroduce it after the Games are over.
“The USOC has legitimized Russia’s violations of fundamental human rights with its silence,” continued Danzig. “Russia has placed itself well outside the bounds of global human rights standards and no international event should be held there again.”
Activists had called for the Games to moved from Russia, citing its abysmal human rights record, including its attacks on LGBT Russians.
During the Olympics, LGBT Russians, including members of Pussy Riot, were arrested, detained, and beaten for protesting against these laws. President Barack Obama and heads of state from Germany, France, and the UK refused to attend the Olympics.
The zap is the latest in a series of high profile protests launched by Queer Nation that included an October 28 confrontation with Moscow government officials at a meeting promoting US investment in Russia held at the Princeton Club in Manhattan and protests against Putin supporters conductor Valery Gergiev and soprano Anna Netrebko at Carnegie Hall on October 10 and the Metropolitan Opera’s Opening Night Gala on September 23.
The group has protested repeatedly in front of the Russian Consulate in New York City and at the Rockefeller Center studios of NBC, the official Olympics broadcaster. In its three weeks of wall-to-wall coverage, the network spent less than two hours discussing the Russian anti-gay laws and resultant state-sanctioned violence, according to the Human Rights Campaign (www.hrc.org).
Queer Nation is a direct action group dedicated to ending discrimination, violence and repression against the LGBT community.
On March 03, 2014, in San Francisco Gays Without Borders will be holding a protest at Davies Hall, at the time of the performance by The St. Petersburg Philharmonic.
Gay Pussy Riot Vigil @ Russian Concert: March 3 in San Francisco Source: Michael Petrelis, February 21, 2014 The St. Petersburg Philharmonic, under the direction of conductor Yuri Temirkanov, will be performing in San Francisco on March 3. Gays Without Borders are organizing a solidarity vigil outside Davies Hall where they will be performing. Please mark […]