Russia’s “Anti-LGBT Law” Wins Gold in Olympics of Discrimination

by GLapierre on September 13, 2013 - 11:48pm

The article Why Russia's Sochi Olympics are now a battleground for gay rights, posted by CNN on August 10th, 2013, describes and explains the controversy that has emerged following the adoption by the Russian parliament of what is considered to be an “anti-gay” law. The law in question, signed by Russian president Vladimir Putin and brought under the spotlights in the perspective of the forthcoming 2014 Sochi Olympics, prohibits “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors”. In other terms, as the article quite efficiently sums it up, the law “bans the public discussion of gay rights anywhere children might hear it” – that is, pretty much everywhere or, at least, in all public places.

Boris Dittich, leading figure of Human Rights Watch’s fight for LGBT rights, points out at religion, ignorance and political opportunism as major causes of this issue. In a first time, he argues that a huge part of responsibilities in the LGBT struggles comes down to the Russian Orthodox Church, who not only preaches extremely conservative, traditional values – thus, ideas that are certainly not favorable to the LGBT –, but also relays false information about them. It should be noted that the Church is very close to the power in place; therefore, it has a strong influence over the politics of the country… Which, coincidentally, also tend to reflect a highly conservative approach. In brief, Dittich then explains that most of the Russian population doesn’t know much about the LGBT, for that they only represent a small minority of it. Hence, politicians take advantage of this ignorance and/or of these false images conveyed by the Church, and use the easy the LGBT as scapegoats, adopting hardline policies against them. In other words, homophobia is a powerful political tool for Russian leaders.

Six months ahead of the Sochi Olympics, the adoption of the law raised worldwide concerns from groups and individuals – may they be athletes, politicians, human rights activists, etc. Gay defense groups unanimously condemned the legislation as a clear violation of their rights, while Amnesty International claimed that it was an “affront to freedom of expression”. American president Barrack Obama, on its side, said that “nobody was more offended than him” by this anti-gay legislation. Meanwhile, 320,000 people signed a petition launched by the gay rights group All Out, calling for a recall of the law…

So far, other forms of early protests resulted in bars ignoring Russian vodka, but then and still now, appeals are being launched all over the planet for not only a boycott, but a cancellation of the Games… A scenario that the International Olympic Committee has dismissed.

Personally, I find it a real shame that a developed country such as Russia can’t treat its citizens in the greatest fairness and equality, even more in the perspective of it hosting the Olympic Games, whose charter, by the way, is unequivocal, stating that “sport is a human right and it should be available to all, regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation […]”. Not only do I find it shameful, I also consider their homophobic policies as clearly retrograde ways of thinking. However, even if a boycott/cancellation of the Games seems unlikely, I believe that, at very least, having this LGBT rights controversy under the spotlight will help (if it has not already been the case) to raise awareness on this cause – and that, way beyond the Russian frontiers...

And on a final side note, I think this unfortunate situation gives us great room for reflection on the potential “power”, “influence” that the lobbies surrounding our governmental institutions (e.g. in this particular case, the Russian Orthodox Church) may (or could possibly) acquire, even in democratic countries such as ours…

 

Source article (CNN): http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/10/world/europe/russia-gay-rights-controversy/index.html

LGBT: “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender” (Merriam-Webster).

 

Comments

I strongly agree with the fact that this whole idea is extremely shameful, and just ridiculous. This is the 21st century, how is this still such a big problem, in fact, why was this ever a problem. All humans should be entitled to HUMAN rights, yet people all over the world have made it hard for certain groups to get the rights they deserve. It's actually funny that I came across this article, today in Brockport we had a diversity conference, and one of the presentations I went to was about heterosexism. Honestly, I didn't even know that the idea of heterosexism was a thing. Growing up in the generation I have grown up in, and having family members that are a part of the LGBT community, I have never thought of marriage (between a man and a women) and having children was the norm, and that was what was thought of as traditional.
Love is love, right? Why is it so difficult for society to let two, or however many people, be in love and have a relationship? I think it is so unfair to think that people can see a man and women walking down the street hand and hand, and someone might say, "look how cute they are together," but if a man and man or woman and woman are doing the same thing, the remark will be more along the lines of, "why do they do that in public, that's disgusting and not right." These aren't my thoughts or feeling but I have heard this out of so many different people's mouths.
How can the Russian community allow this to happen? It's wrong, morally wrong to not expose children to all kinds of sexualities and sexual identities. The only thing that this is going to accomplish is ignorance, and close-minded adults later on in life. If children are able to see that being separate from what's "normal" is okay, they are going to teach their children that, and there will be continued generations of accepting people. The community will be a better place for everyone.

First and foremost, your title is awesome. I saw it and immediately felt the need to read this article. I’ve heard of some anti-gay happenings in Russia lately, but I didn’t know what. This article gave me the information I needed. I am very sensitive when it comes to gay rights, seeing as how one of my best friends and my uncle are both gay. While my uncle is not keen on the marriage thing “why would I put myself through the torture of marriage?”, my friend would love to someday marry her girlfriend. My one question for the International Olympic Committee is if openly gay athletes can still compete.

Hi there. First, thanks for your nice words ! Actually, gay athletes are still allowed to participate. For what has been said, the Russian Government doesn't intend to "give them trouble"...

Russia is in fact a very developed country... why keep such old traditions? In my opinion, such law is just stopping the Russians to move forward. With all the gay parades, and numerous manifestations, people have incredibly started to accept homosexuality in the past years. Russia's 'goal' of keeping a good reputation is in my opinion reaching failure as it is giving a very discriminatory image. Having a law such as "banning the public discussion of gay rights anywhere children might hear it” is incredibly foolish in my opinion. Children will one day know what homosexuality is, and like I said, it has been more and more accepting. I believe this law is useless, and will only bring political conflicts. I do want to know, are homosexuals competitors still aloud to participate in the Olympics even if they don't commercialize their sexual orientation?

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