Wanda Sykes Speaks Out for LGBT Equality in Russia on NBC’s The Tonight Show with HRC T-Shirt

by Charles Joughin

As 2014 Winter Games in Sochi draw nearer, Sykes speaks out against heinous situation in Russia

WASHINGTON – With less than two weeks until the 2014 Winter Olympic Games commence in Sochi, Russia, actress and comedienne Wanda Sykes appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Tuesday night with a t-shirt from the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) #LoveConquersHate campaign.  The campaign aims to support Russia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community which is being targeted by a hateful “anti-propaganda” law that prohibits public support for equality in the country.   

During her appearance as one of Jay Leno’s final guests as host of the Tonight Show, Sykes talked about her participation in HRC’s campaign and the need for more Americans to speak out against the heinous situation taking place in Russia.

“It’s criminal what they’re doing to the LGBT community in Russia,” Sykes said during the interview.  After joking about a number of reasons why she would not be traveling to Sochi for the Olympic Games, she added, “What I will do is wear a t-shirt to support them.  Human Rights Campaign has a [shirt] out and the proceeds go to help them.  And I brought you one too so if they ask you to go, you can say ‘No I’m going to wear a t-shirt.’”

HRC’s campaign is centered on a Russian version of its iconic LoveConquersHate t-shirt. 100% of net proceeds will benefit LGBT activists and advocacy groups in Russia. Since its launch in November, a number of prominent celebrities, athletes and politicians have spoken out in support of the LGBT community in Russia through HRC’s #LoveConquersHate campaign, including Madonna, Andy Cohen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lady Gaga, Chelsea Handler, Ricky Martin, Kristen Bell, Kevin Bacon, Jonah Hill, Matt Damon, Robin Thicke, Russell Simmons, Sarah Silverman, Kyra Sedgwick, Mark Ruffalo, Jason Collins, America Ferrera, Cyndi Lauper, Amber Tamblyn, Wentworth Miller, Amanda Leigh Dunn, Taryn Manning, Ana Matronic, Perez Hilton, Tim Gunn, Craig Gibbons, Jeri Ryan, Jonathan Del Arco, Maggie Rose, Megan Rapinoe, Lori Lindsey, Doutzen Kroes, Anthony Bourdain, Amanda Von Furrer, Nick Youngquest, Robbie Rogers, Stephanie March, Jay Manuel, Ben Cohen, Dan Bucatinsky, Mya and Dustin Lance Black.

In June, Russia enacted an "anti-propaganda" law that outlaws even modest public gestures of support of the LGBT community.  Fines for breaking the law are more severe if information promoting equality is distributed through the media or the internet.  Foreigners breaking this law, such as those visiting Russia for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, could face arrest and up to 15 days in jail followed by deportation.

Shortly after its passage, HRC president Chad Griffin sent a letter to the leadership of NBCUniversal, calling on the company to use its exclusive coverage of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games to expose this heinous law.

For more information on HRC’s #LoveConquersHate campaign, visit loveconquershate.org

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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