Queer Nation Demo Marks Opening of Sochi Olympics with Fake Blood Poured on Olympic Flag
Vladimir Putin’s Anti-Gay Laws | State-Sanctioned Anti-Gay Violence at Issue
By Melanie Nathan, February 07, 2014.
New York, NY (February 6, 2014) — More than 100 members of the gay activist group Queer Nation and others who oppose the Russian government’s continued attacks on human rights, including the rights of LGBT Russians, marked the opening of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games with a raucous protest directly in front of the Russian consulate in New York City at noon today.
The protest included three people wearing Putin masks who dumped fake blood on the iconic five-ringed Olympic flag to underscore the International Olympic Committee’s complicity with the Russian government.
“We’ve focused on the IOC and how holding the Olympics in Sochi goes against everything in its charter,” said Queer Nation member Ken Kidd, referring to past Queer Nation protests. “We’ve focused on NBC and major Olympic sponsors like Coke and McDonalds, who pay lip service to equality while profiting from inequality and ignoring Putin’s human rights atrocities. Now we’re once again laying our message right on Putin’s doorstep. The whole world is watching — literally. Putin can’t hide his pogrom behind the sports page.”
Among the protesters were gay Russians who have fled Russia and are seeking asylum in the U.S., members of RUSA LGBT, an organization of gay and lesbian Russian expatriates, students from Queens College, and members of Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village. They chanted “Queer rights are human rights!” and “Gay bashing is not an Olympic sport!”; held “Putin heads” on sticks; and carried anti-Putin signs in both English and Russian.
Last 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.
Last year, the Russian parliament considered 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 While that legislation has been withdrawn ahead of the Olympics, activists believe the parliament will reintroduce it after the Games are over.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 anti-gay legislation’s passage has been followed by unprecedented, effectively state-sanctioned violence against LGBT people, who have been harassed, arrested, beaten, raped, tortured, and killed. Activists had called for a boycott of Sochi and for the Games to be moved from Russia, citing its abysmal human rights record, including its attacks on LGBT Russians.
The protest is the latest in a series of high-profile protests launched by Queer Nation dating to July 2013. They include December 12 actions at two NBC employee Christmas parties and earlier confrontations with Moscow government officials at meetings promoting US investment in Russia. The group has also targeted supporters of Putin performing at the Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall as well as “Russia Day” at the New York Stock Exchange.
Queer Nation has also targeted corporate sponsors of the Olympics, most notably Coca-Cola and McDonalds, through pointed, successful social media campaigns, including appropriating McDonalds’ #CheersToSochi Twitter hash tag.
“The Russian government is on notice that the start of the Olympics is not the end of this fight,” said Scott Wooledge, another Queer Nation member. “Overturning these laws and ensuring the rights of LGBT Russians is the only way for Putin to begin to repair that damage to his reputation on the world stage the passage of these laws has done.”
Queer Nation is a direct action group dedicated to ending discrimination, violence, and repression against the LGBT community.
Video link to protesters pouring blood on the IOC flag: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=245220805650359&stream_ref=10
Also, today has seen reports of Russian LGBT rights protesters near Lenin’s tomb in Red Square in Moscow, and in St. Petersburg. Russia. Let the Games begin!