Call to Boycott Olympics in homophobic Russia reminds of Apartheid South Africa

“If they feel strongly about human rights they should boycott the Olympics in Sochi.”

By Cathy Kristofferson, June 18, 2013

rusalgbtRUSA LGBT, a Russian-Speaking American LGBTQ group in New York City, is calling for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The lower house of the Russian Duma  last week unanimously passed their “anti-gay promotion bill” as we reported here on OBLOGDEE. The bill  is expected to easily pass the upper house and be signed into law by President Putin by the end of the month.  Russia followed that bill up by passing one that bans “offending religious feelings of the faithful.”  The two laws together will make being gay in public or talking about anything gay in public grounds for detention and/or deportation for anyone inside Russia.

In an interview with RIA Novosti, a leading Russian news agency, RUSA LGBT president Nina Long stated:

“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. We really want the LGBT community to know it’s unsafe to travel there.”

Sochi-Winter-OlympicsRUSA LGBT is calling not only on gay athletes to boycott the Games, but also straight athletes to boycott. ANY foreigner should think twice before attending the Games as everyone, gay or straight, or anywhere in between, can be targeted by the new law.  Foreigners of any sexual orientation who break the law will be deported, fined, or detained for about 15 days.

To date the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has only expressed “concern” about the new anti-gay laws while reiterating  their generic comment that ‘the Games are inclusive of everyone.’

Perhaps the Games probably are all inclusive, but the country they are to be held in IS NOT all inclusive!

There were 23 openly gay Summer Olympians in London.  I wonder how “concerned” the IOC will be for the openly gay Winter Olympians brave enough to step foot inside Russia?

220px-Pride_HouseAttempts to organize a Pride House, present at both the 2010 and 2012 Olympics, at next year’s Sochi Games was denied by the Russian Ministry of Justice.  The ban was upheld in court as inciting “propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation which can undermine the security of the Russian society and the state, provoke social-religious hatred, which is the feature of the extremist character of the activity”.

We know that foreigners have already run afoul of the predecessor citywide Russian anti-gay ‘promotion’ laws.  Case in point, Madonna who was sued for violating the St. Petersburg anti-gay law after she expressed support for the city’s gay community and backed Pussy Riot at her concerts in Moscow and St. Petersburg last year.  Outsiders are not somehow magically immune from these laws.  Anyone thinking to take part or attend should really think twice.

“And then what about the matter of principal?”  asks Melanie Nathan, Publisher of OBLOGDEE and international LGBTI rights advocate, who was a lawyer in South Africa and experienced the worldwide sanctions and boycotts of South Africa during the Apartheid era. “South Africa had institutionalized racism through the discriminatory laws enacted by Parliament which became known as Apartheid. Well now Russia has institutionalized homophobia through discriminatory and prejudicial laws enacted by its Parliament. The world would not stand for Apartheid as a matter of principle and stood steadfast by banning South Africa from the Olympics. There could never have been an Olympics on South African soil either.  I think that that a boycott must be called and the United States, and all concerned about homophobia and LGBTI equality should refuse to set foot on Russian soil to participate in any sport whatsoever. Its is about time we stood behind what we believe. We cannot tolerate homophobia institutionalized by any government in this day and age.”

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 8.57.34 AMBoycotting Olympics to protest discriminatory bigoted governments is not a new thing.  In fact the IOC themselves withdrew its invitation to South Africa to the 1964 Summer Olympics when it learned the team would not be racially integrated.  But then in 1968 the IOC was willing readmit South Africa after assurances that its team would be multi-racial but African countries and African American athletes promised to boycott the Games if South Africa was present. South Africa was then forever banned from the Olympics until Apartheid ended.

RUSA LGBT has several hundred gay members from Russia and surrounding countries of the former Soviet Union. They will be marching in NYC’s Gay Pride Parade this Sunday (Facebook Event here) handing out flyers with information about the Olympic boycott.  So, if you are in the NYC area grab a flyer and ask what you can do to help spread the word and turn BOYCOTT RUSSIAN SPORTS and WINTER OLYMPICS into a worldwide battle-cry!

Tweet #sochi2014

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9 thoughts on “Call to Boycott Olympics in homophobic Russia reminds of Apartheid South Africa

  1. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Homophobia is all over the world. We are in the 31st century … we ALL are one!! Being gay isn’t a disease! It’s like …. how can you change the color of your skin???

  2. Stopping the Olympics may not happen (I am not by nature a pessimist), but I do remember the raised Black glove salute…(was it at the Los Angeles Olympics).
    If runners support gay rights, it would be nice for them to wear a rainbow armband. It doesn’t matter if they reach the podium or not, just wearing it in events would be great!
    Certain countries that approve same sex marriage could fly their flag and the rainbow flag below it (in the Athletes Villages).
    I am sure these ideas have already been thought out, but I always think no one can think like me (LOL)>

  3. Oh, just another thought…when the marchers come into the stadium at the commencement ceremonies, individual athletes could hold the rainbow flags.
    Athletics could thank their parents and some gay uncle or aunt.
    I should clarify for anyone too young to remember the black hand salute at the LA Olympics, this was the Black Panther protest.
    What if countries chose their country’s flag bearer to be a gay althlete….maybe stretching things too far.

    Supporters in the stands could bring their own country’s flag plus rainbow flags as well.
    I’d like to see the Head of the Olympic Committee wear a rainbow flag pin on his lapel.
    The torch bearers could have a rainbow armband….Greece certainly had homosexuals.

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