I’m sure you’ve all seen the photos of the brutality against gay activists in Russia, including the four Dutch tourists that were detained because they were supposedly promoting homosexuality to children.
Putin signed the ‘gay propaganda’ law in June, punishing people for providing information to minors “directed at forming nontraditional sexual setup” or may cause a “distorted understanding” that homosexual relations are “socially equivalent”. Anyone punished under these laws are subject to fines up to $5000 ($156) for citizens and $200,000 rubies ($6250 US dollars) for officials who spread this “propaganda” through the media or internet.
Foreigners are not only subject to fines, but face administrative arrest for up to 15 days and deportation. Organizations face fines of up to one million rubies and a shutdown of their activities for 90 days.
Ironically, homosexuality was decriminalized in 1993. The law doesn’t directly state that people can be arrested and prosecuted for being homosexual, but the law is vague enough that it could lead to arrests.
While many countries around the world are making leaps and bounds when it comes to the fight for equality, Russia just took a step back into the Dark Ages. Unfortunately, they aren’t the only ones who have done such. Moldova has recently been criticized by activists for ‘secretly’ adopting a very similar policy. Lithuania has also passed an equally harsh law against the LGBT community.
The law has also effectively banned all forms of Pride, including any kind of parades or celebrations. Those that have occurred have been met with police brutality. The pictures are disturbing and a reminder of such events as Stonewall, and even reminiscent of the actions of the Nazi SS. You can see the pictures here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/photos-from-russia-everyone-needs-to-see
The big kick is the fact that Russia is supposed to be home of the 2014 Olympics. Some have called for the US to pull out of the 2014 Olympics in protest. Other countries are considering doing the same. Several high profile sponsors are being petitioned to pull their sponsorship from the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has claimed that gay athletes will be safe in the country. However, the same cannot be said for spectators. And, who knows what could possibly happen if a gay athlete happened to mention their sexual orientation during an interview or if they’re seen with their partner.
Some have said that protesting the Olympics won’t do any good. But at the same time, if there’s a potential for harm to come to our athletes, to any athletes, or spectators, should we go? While pulling from the 2014 Olympics may not (and probably won’t) change Vladimir Putin’s mind, it could save the lives of many. And, if the US pulls out, I guarantee other countries will pull out in support. People claim pulling out of the Olympics would have no effect.
I beg to differ. What is the whole reason for a city to bid for the Olympics? Prestige, yes, but more importantly, the income generated by the influx of tourists, the jobs created to build the arenas, and the apparel and souvenirs sold. It revolves around money. If no one shows, no money is made. It doesn’t matter how many watch it on television, it matters how many people are there.
The law could potentially lead to anyone who is supportive of homosexuals and their rights being arrested, detained, and deported. This goes beyond athletes, to include their families, reporters, and anyone else the government deems as a threat to the ‘normal path of sexuality’.
It’s funny. The Olympic flag is very symbolic. The rings symbolize the five continents, and the fact that they’re interlocked is supposed to represent the ability for athletes to come together in unity, and compete for their respective countries. Unity. That’s a word that apparently has no meaning for Russia, outside of oppression and unity in hatred.
I, for one, will not be supporting any aspect of the 2014 Olympics, save the support to the athletes. I know it’s unlikely, but I would love to see athletes pull from the Olympics if countries won’t.
Take a look at those pictures, and remember that those people were arrested and beaten for nothing more than celebrating who they are.