We Demand that NBC Speak out now and Tell the Truth About the Plight of LGBT Russians
December 12, 2013 (New York) — Charging that NBC is misinforming its viewers about the dire circumstances of LGBT Russians ahead of its broadcast of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Russia, LGBT activists demanded at a holiday party in New York, that NBC tell the truth about Russia and its anti-LGBT laws.
“NBC has dispatched Olympic commentator Johnny Weir and MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts, two openly gay men, to soft-pedal the Russian government’s anti-LGBT bigotry,” said Ken Kidd, a member of Queer Nation NY, an LGBT rights group. “LGBT Russians have been vilified, assaulted, tortured, murdered, and fired from their jobs by the Russian government and by Russian thugs. It’s past time for NBC to report the facts about Russia.”
NBC spent hundreds of millions of dollars for the broadcast rights for the Sochi Olympics. They noted in a Dec. 3 statement, “As we’ve previously stated, NBC will cover all newsworthy issues as they are relevant to the Games, including the LGBT law.”
The following events have transpired since then; NBC has reported on none of them:
• Dec. 5: New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli asks 10 Olympic sponsors to oppose Russia’s anti-LGBT laws.
• Dec. 6: At his Moscow concert, Elton John condemns Russia’s anti-LGBT laws.
• Dec. 8: German President Joachim Gauck declares he will boycott the Olympics over
Russian human rights violations.
• Dec. 10: European Union Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding says she will boycott Olympics over Russian human rights violations.
• Violence against LGBT Russians continues unabated and Russian government does nothing.
Weir and Roberts cover the Olympics for NBC. Roberts hosted the Nov. 9 Miss Universe pageant that was held in Moscow and broadcast on NBC; in Moscow, he made comments that minimized the harm of Russia’s anti-LGBT laws. Weir, who also works for the Russian consulate in New York City, has consistently praised Russia and defended one of Russia’s anti-LGBT laws at a recent appearance at Barnard College.
In June, the Russian government enacted a law that bans any pro-LGBT statement in public or private and on the Internet. 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 Russian government has also trampled on the rights of political dissidents, ethnic minorities, undocumented immigrants, artists, and others.
Queer Nation is a direct action group dedicated to ending discrimination, violence and repression against the LGBT community.