Post submitted by Maureen McCarty, former HRC Deputy Director of Marketing
Russia’s heinous anti-LGBT “propaganda” law has been the subject of worldwide scrutiny and concern for weeks now, with seemingly contradictory statements from the government released almost daily. With the government’s flip-flopping, it’s difficult to understand exactly how the country will implement the law when the world converged on Sochi.
At the end of July, the International Olympic Committee claimed that it received “reassurances” from highest level of Russian government that athletes would be exempt from the law.
But on August 1, Russian Sport Minister Vitaly Mutka stated that athletes and spectators would be held accountable to the country’s propaganda law and that LGBT advocates calling for the safety of both the athletes and travellers should “calm down.”
The following day, the chairman of the Duma committee on physical training, sport and youth matters countered, “Our task is to be as politically correct and tolerant as we can be. That’s why we made the decision not to raise this issue during the Games."
Then on Monday, August 12, Russia’s Interior Ministry, which controls the police force, released a statement that the law would in fact be enforced during the Olympic Games.
And throughout, there’s been a deluge of Russian media officials taking to the mic to propagate anti-LGBT sentiments, the most recent from the Deputy General Director of Russia’s government-owned media Dmitri Kisilev, who called LGBT individuals, “unsuitable for a continuation of life.”
The law, which criminalizes even the most modest displays of support for the LGBT community, puts not only the athletes and travelers visiting Sochi for the Olympics, but impacts the health and safety of the Russian community long after the world turns its attention away from the games.
It’s time for the Russian government to go on record, once and for all, as to how the law will be enforced. It’s time for definitive action on the world-stage from all of those involved. It’s time the IOC spoke out against the human rights abuses under way in Russia and demanded an explicit, written guarantee from Russian President Vladimir Putin that visitors to the Olympics will be safe.
Join HRC in demanding justice in Russia now. Take action.