​Post submitted by Charlie Joughin, HRC Press Secretary

Just 50 days from the start of the Sochi Winter Olympics, we've announced our first contribution to the Russia Freedom Fund (www.russiafreedomfund.org) in the amount of $100,000. The announcement is featured in a video holiday card to the Russian LGBT community, compiling support and solidarity for their cause across social media. The video is set to singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson’s song “Blood Brothers.”

The donation was made possible because individuals from around the world have joined HRC’s “Love Conquers Hate” campaign, which is raising awareness about the Russian government outlawing even modest support for LGBT equality. The campaign has been bolstered by participation from a diverse group of prominent celebrities, athletes and politicians with Matt Damon, Robin Thicke and Sarah Silverman joining the campaign this week.

“With less than two months until the Sochi Olympic Games, it’s time to harness the tidal wave of support for Russia’s LGBT community emerging around the world,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Now more than ever, we must expose the Russian government’s hateful campaign against its own people and support LGBT Russians enduring oppression and violence every day.”

"We are thankful to HRC for this groundsetting donation to support the Russian LGBT movement," says Anastasia Smirnova, coordinator of the coalition of Russian LGBT organizations. "While the safety of our community continues to be put at risk, more and more individuals and groups stand up to defend and promote equality. HRC's support will help this energy last and will contribute to a safer and better life for LGBT people in Russia."

Today’s announced funds will be donated to the Russia Freedom Fund (www.russiafreedomfund.org). The fund seeks to create a safe environment for LGBT people in Russia by supporting local organizations that have been effective at combatting discrimination and violence. The fund is a U.S. tax deductible vehicle for making financial contributions in support of the LGBT movement in Russia.

“History has demonstrated the power of combining the efforts of courageous activists with the support and resolve of a global movement,” said Kevin Jennings, Executive Director of The Arcus Foundation, speaking on behalf of the Russia Freedom Fund.  “People, institutions and heads of state are coming together to support Russia’s LGBT community. We are grateful to have HRC as a partner in the struggle, and especially grateful to the thousands of people spreading the word through their Love Conquers Hate campaign.”

This donation was made possible because thousands of individuals from around the world purchased a Russian “Love Conquers Hate” t-shirts and shared photos of themselves in the shirt via social media platforms using the #loveconquershate tag.  One hundred percent of net proceeds from the shirt are being used to support the Russian LGBT movement. Madonna recently penned a note encouraging people around the world to join the campaign.

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