A new law allows police in Russia, the host country of the upcoming Olympic Winter Games, to arrest tourists or foreigners whom they suspect of being gay. Along with being a human rights violation, the law goes directly against the International Olympic Committee charter of non-discrimination.
"I don't think gay athletes in Sochi have anything to fear," long-serving Australian Olympic Committee spokesman Mike Tancred said. "Under the IOC charter, discrimination of any kind is strictly forbidden. I am sure the IOC values will prevail."
The new law, which was signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 30, allows police to arrest tourists or foreigners whom they suspect of being gay or lesbian. Under the law, police have the right to detain suspects for up to 14 days, and their powers will even extend towards people considered "pro-gay."
The new law means that any fan, athlete or coach could be arrested for harmless acts such as unfurling a rainbow flag or holding hands with a member of the same sex.
The anti-gay law is in direct defiance of the "Seven Fundamental Principles of Olympism" contained within the Olympic Charter.
Principle Number 6 states: "Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement."
The Charter also makes frequent references to such concepts as "universal fundamental ethical principles" and "the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity."
The International Olympic Committee issued a statement in response to the Russian law, saying it will make sure "the Games can take place without discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators and the media."
However, Russian authorities remain hostile towards homosexuals. A recent gay pride rally in St. Petersburg, the country’s second largest city, turned violent after right-wing elements and authorities attacked marchers.