World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Sochi will be remembered as the anti-gay Olympics

These anti-gay Olympics are Putin’s disgrace but they shame the whole world

Sunday Mail - Scotland, UK - 19 January 2014

The Winter Olympics start in the Russian resort of Sochi on 7 February. They are destined to go down in history as the anti-gay Olympics.

The intensely homophobic atmosphere in Russia, orchestrated by President Putin’s government, means it would be very unlikely for an openly gay athlete to be selected for the Russian Olympic squad. The Kremlin has banned a Pride House - a social meeting space for gay athletes and spectators, like the one at the London 2012 Olympics.

Dozens of countries sending competitors to Sochi criminalise same-sex relationships or actively discriminate against gay people. None of them would be likely to allow the selection of a gay athlete for their Sochi team.

These are clear breaches of the anti-discrimination Principle Six of the Olympic Charter. Yet the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said and done nothing. It is allowing the Russian government to ban the Pride House and discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) athletes and spectators. The IOC has also threatened that any athlete who expresses support for LGBT equality during the games will face disciplinary action, possibly including expulsion and being stripped of any medals won.

The IOC’s top priority is not Olympic values or human rights. It is driven by commercial interests. The Olympics are big business. The host nation and corporate sponsors are king. Nothing must be allowed to detract from financial success and ‘good news’ PR - certainly not the plight of Russia’s persecuted LGBTs.

The 1936 Berlin Olympics took place in an atmosphere of anti-Semitic hatred incited by the Nazi government. The 2014 Sochi Olympics echo that hatred, only this time the victims of demonisation are LGBT people.

How can there be normal sporting relations with an abnormal regime like Putin’s Russia?

Russia has enacted a harsh anti-gay law that criminalises anyone who portrays homosexuality as “interesting” or “attractive” - or who suggests that homosexuality and heterosexuality are of “equal value” - in circumstances where a person under 18 might witness it.

LGBT marches, festivals, posters, magazines, books, films and welfare advice are likely to face criminal prosecution, as will individuals who identify themselves as gay in public. Any statement that homosexuality is natural and normal will become criminal, as will the provision of gay-affirmative counselling or safer sex information to LGBT youth. It could result in the purging of books, films and plays with LGBT characters and story-lines from libraries, galleries, theatres and cinemas, including many classic works of art and literature.

It is routine for Russian MPs and media to portray LGBT people as the enemy within; equating homosexuality with paedophilia, bestiality and ‘decadent’ western values. This has prompted a surge in mob violence against LGBTs. Gay teens are lured to rendezvous and then stripped and tortured - with videos of the abuse posted online. The Russian police mostly do nothing, apart from threatening the victims who report these crimes.

This is the homophobic backdrop to the up-coming Winter Olympics. Parallels with the Nazi Olympics are obvious. No concentration camps but...

That’s why it is outrageous that UK government ministers are going to Sochi. They should, like President Obama, boycott the games and send an LGBT delegation instead. Indeed, all world leaders should stay away from the opening and closing ceremonies. Empty VIP seats would send a powerful message to Putin.

I’m hoping that some athletes and spectators will take a stand by wearing rainbow ribbons, scarves, hats and gloves and by making the Principle Six sign - five fingers and a thumb. Everyone everywhere can stand in solidarity by posting selfies doing the same. The international LGBT lobby group, allout.org, is planning a big Global Speak Out for Principle Six just before Sochi.

Homophobic discrimination in sport is not just a Russian and Olympic issue. It will figure big at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer. Eighty per cent of participating Commonwealth countries criminalise LGBT people, with penalties ranging up to life imprisonment. In more than 40 of these countries, discrimination against LGBT people is lawful, including discrimination in sport. Any athlete or coach known to be gay would most likely face arrest. They’d stand no chance of selection for Glasgow 2014. The games organisers need to address this issue. But will they?

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Palestine: Border Police Extremely Close When They Shot The US Activist

New testimony at final hearing in Tristan Anderson's trial indicates Border Police were extremely close when they shot the US activist in the head More>>

Palestine: Ni’lin Demonstrators Met With Violence

International Solidarity Movement On the 20th of March, during Ni’lin’s weekly Friday demonstration, Israeli occupation forces attacked protestors with about 20 rounds of tear gas canisters shot with the ‘venom’ tear gas launcher mounted on a military jeep ... More>>

ALSO:

UN Envoy Says Yemen On 'Rapid Downward Spiral'

Yemen stands on the brink of civil war amid deepening political tensions and an uptick in sectarian violence, United Nations Special Adviser Jamal Benomar warned today as he explained that only through dialogue could the country achieve a peaceful political transition. More>>


Continued International Support As Vanuatu Recovers

Damage seen on Saturday 14 March 2015 in Port Vila, capital of Vanuatu, after Cyclone Pam moved through the Archipelago. Photo: UNICEF Pacific More>>

UNICEF Rushes Emergency Supplies For Cyclone-Affected Tuvalu

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is dispatching emergency life-saving supplies to communities in Tuvalu as part of its efforts to assist communities in the Pacific region that were affected by Tropical Cyclone Pam, with nutrition and hygiene kits arriving today. More>>

Vanuatu: Regenvanu Expects 50% Of People Struck By Pam To Be Homeless

Vanuatu Minister of Lands Ralph Regenvanu says more than 50 percent of those hit by super Cyclone Pam at the weekend are now homeless. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news