Gay Issues

Committee Says Pro-Gay Attendees At the Winter Olympics Won’t Be Targeted by Russia’s New Anti-Gay Law

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) promised Friday that athletes and visitors at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games will not be affected by the new anti-gay legislation passed in Russia this past June.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill into law last month that bans “homosexual propaganda,” which includes public events to promote equal rights and the public display of affection by same-sex couples.

"The IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games," the IOC said in a statement.

But the committee didn’t appear to be sure how authorities would apply the law.

"This legislation has just been passed into law and it remains to be seen whether and how it will be implemented, particularly as regards the Games in Sochi," the IOC said. "As a sporting organization, what we can do is to continue to work to ensure that the Games can take place without discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators and the media."

But what about the physical safety of those attending the winter games? Attacks on the LGBT community are on the rise in Russia. A recent survey found “15 percent of about 900 LGBT people surveyed in Russia said they had been physically attacked at least once in the previous 10 month.”

Gay activists have called for a boycott of the Russian Olympics, but some athletes, like skater Johnny Weir, say that a boycott will only hurt budding athletes, not Russia.

Other LGBT activists trying to hit Russia where it will hurt are calling for a boycott of Russian vodka.

"To show our solidarity with Russian queers and their allies and to help to draw international attention to the persecution of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, trans people and straight allies in Vladimir Putin's increasingly fascistic Russia: dump Russian vodka," wrote advice columnist Dan Savage on his blog. Savage tells people to stay away from Stolichnaya and Russian Standard, coining the hashtag #DumpStoli for the campaign.

The IOC does not agree in discrimination based on sexual orienation.

"The International Olympic Committee is clear that sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation," said their statement. "The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and of course athletes. We would oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardize this principle."

Sources: The Guardian, ThinkProgress, USA Today