Gay Activists Condemn Olympic Political Statement by Out Dutch Athlete

Speed Skater and Gold Medal Winner Ireen Wust Boasted in Media Reports of Embracing Vladimir Putin

By Melanie Nathan, February 11, 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 11.41.10 PMNew York, NY (February 10, 2014) — Members of the gay activist group Queer Nation have condemned Dutch speed skater Ireen Wust for having a “cuddle” with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

“The Olympic athletes have said that they will not make political statements during the Games yet that is exactly what Ireen Wust did,” said Duncan Osborne, a member of Queer Nation. “By embracing Vladimir Putin, a man who has trampled on the human rights of LGBT Russians, political dissidents, artists, undocumented immigrants, and others in Russia, Wust has endorsed his fascist agenda.”

Citing a report from Dutch television network NOS,ABC News reported on February 10 that Wust met Putin at a party in her honor after she won gold in the 3,000 meter event on February 9.

 “I got a cuddle from him,” said Wust, who has been identified in published reports as an out lesbian, according to ABC News. “He congratulated me and asked if everything was OK in Russia and I congratulated him on (Russian speed skater) Olga Graf, of course, for her third place (in the 3,000 meters). He was happy to see me, but then he had to leave again. But I cuddled him.”

As the Olympics opened in Russia, over 60 activists, including LGBT activists, were arrested in several Russian cities while protesting over a number of issues.

“LGBT Russians and political dissidents are showing us what courage and commitment look like,” said Osborne. “Embracing Vladimir Putin is a betrayal of that courage and commitment. Wust should be ashamed of herself. Every athlete in Sochi should understand that the whole world is watching. We cannot make the athletes show the sort of courage that LGBT Russians display, but we will not be silent and we will not forget if the athletes embrace Putin.”

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.

That 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.

Queer Nation and other LGBT activists around the world conducted a series of high-profile protests dating back to July 2013. They include a February 6 protest at the Russian consulate in New York City, 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. Members of PCI Justice and Gays without Borders conducted protests at the San Francisco Opera with famed Opera couple Patricia Racette and Beth Clayton who supported the LGBT vigil for Russia expressing their solidarity.

Activists have also targeted corporate sponsors of the Olympics, most notably Coca-Cola and McDonalds, through pointed, successful social media campaigns.Queer Nation is a direct action group dedicated to ending discrimination, violence and repression against the LGBT community.


18 thoughts on “Gay Activists Condemn Olympic Political Statement by Out Dutch Athlete

  1. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    What is the purpose? Could someone explain? Is she making a statement?

  2. On the other side, you could say that Putin was publicly hugging a lesbian OC, with is clearly Homo-propaganda!
    But you are right, Dutch LGBT community is deeply disappointed and ashamed about this cuddle… By the way, Irene Wust is bi-seksual not lesbian…

    1. well no lesbian will want her after this she will have to chase straight women… seriously a traitor…. she had a ‘golden’ opportunity to make a statement. If she wanted to be political which she clearly was – she chose the wrong side- she should have turned hr back on him and insulted him…..

      1. Gee bitch, feeling a bit insecure about your looks? It’s quite obvious you are well aware of the fact you’re too ugly to be attractive to any woman or man. So you start bashing anyone who doesn’t act the way your narrow mind works. Well, let me tell you, this only shows it’s not only your outside that is ugly, it’s also your inside.

        You’re obviously too dimmwitted to understand so I’ll spell it out for you and that dumb-ass Osborne. When you start dictating what people should or shouldn’t do you are just as bad, if not worse, then that 2-bit dictator Putin. The reason that you are much worse is that you claim to do this for a lofty goal. What you’re actually doing is reducing yourself and the goals you claim to support to the level of that man.

        If you want to take the moral high ground, then do exactly that. Don’t start throwing mud like the pig you obviously are.

        1. I moderate comments and could not resist including this one that gave me such a long and hard laugh. Alexei you ARE funny! Please come back with more of these – we enjoy the entertainment.

        1. I guess this provides the answers from someone who knows her, – she is no longer a lesbian or her bisexuality has found her to favor men at this point??? I dont know – and would not waste my time trying to verify it. Simply put she is certainly no LGBT activist – probably all caught up in her victory and thinks the world is not her oyster.

  3. Well, she isn’t a little boy so she is safe. You all did see the Daily Show segment re HOMOPHOBIC OLYMPICS… had video of Putin kissing little boys broad daylight on city street. Obvious he enjoyed it!

  4. I thought there was no such thing as ‘bad’ publicity? I wonder how this will be interpreted by virulent homophobes… and also by the swayable middle? Is this not possibly an opportunity depending how it is spun? It could send a message that gays are able to love and forgive their enemies? That love overcomes hate? That this is the correct way to ‘treat’ LGBTIA people? Why are we rushing to assume this is such a negative thing? Arent we displaying unattractive disunity and judgementalism by attacking one of our own?

    1. One of our own? Like the lesbian in Hawaii who voted against marriage equality. Indeed one could spin this in many ways and look at it in the way you suggest. However given the paradigm, she missed an opportunity and the beef expressed by Queer Nation was that she bragged about it.

  5. What a load of fuss about nothing. He celebrated her with a hug. Do you think GLBT rights are on her mind when she’s just won Olympic Gold?

    1. Michael – try doing some reading and get caught up on the issue – that may help you to understand. Rights should be on her MIND all the time… especially while performing her athletic prowess in a country that encourages persecution of gays. If RIGHTS as you call it were not on her mind, then she should be ashamed, especially if she identifies with the group being persecuted.

  6. Love is stronger than hate. Turn the other cheek. Attract more flies with honey. Lover your enemies. The hardness of your hearts must make for a miserable life. I think she understands the power of love.

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