- December 18, 2013
Post submitted by Tushar M, HRC Global Engagement fellow:
The White House has announced its final delegation to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games to be held in Sochi, Russia.
Breaking recent tradition in which leading U.S. officials represent the country at the Olympic Games, neither President Obama, Vice President Biden, their families nor a former President will be attending the 2014 Games. Instead, the U.S. Government is sending a delegation comprising of two openly LGBT athletes – the iconic tennis star Billy Jean King and Olympic ice hockey silver and bronze medalist Caitlin Cahow – in addition to former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, and other U.S. representatives.
“The U.S. Delegation to the Olympic Games represents the diversity that is the United States,” said White House spokesman Shin Inouye.
"Given Russia's deplorable law against LGBT people, the makeup of this delegation is entirely appropriate," HRC spokesman Michael Cole-Schwartz said in response to yesterday's White House announcement. "Particularly the inclusion of openly gay athletes sends a message to the world that the U.S. values the civil and human rights of LGBT people."
Apart from the United States, people across the globe have expressed their concern regarding Russia’s “homosexual propaganda” law that passed in its Parliament this summer, which has led to increased violence against LGBT people and organizations, as well as anti-LGBT propaganda TV shows being shown on Russian national televisions under the Olympic logo. The Russian parliament has put its other controversial law, which would take away children from LGBT Russian families, on hold till February 24, 2014, the very day after the Winter Olympics end.
Last week German President Joachim Gauck and French President François Hollande announced that they will not be attending the Sochi Olympics. Neither government has released statements elaborating on the decisions.
Learn more about Russia’s anti-LGBT law and take action for equality at www.hrc.org/russia.