Russia: LGBT Rights Update 2/9/14

Written by scott on February 9th, 2014

Sochi Winter GamesAs the Olympics get into full swing, there’s more news from and about Russia’s anti gay laws.

First off, at least 60 people have been arrested in Russia since the Olympics began for breaking the gay propaganda law.

GayWebSource reports:

With the world watching it seems the perfect time for human rights activists to stand up and say ‘enough is enough Russia, we won’t be silent any longer.’ However this is coming at a great price according to The New York Times who reports that 61 people since Friday have been arrested for doing just this.

The International Olympic Committee seems to be fine with it.

The Advocate reports:

The official Olympic organization says it will not take action after 14 activists were arrested for peacefully protesting on Friday in Russia’s two largest cities. “We understand that the protesters were quickly released,” IOC’s head of media relations told Buzzfeed. “As in many countries in the world, in Russia, you need permission before staging a protest. We understand this was the reason they were temporarily detained.”

The IOC did speak out against discrimination at the start of the games, but no one watching the US coverage saw it, because NBC edited it out.

Joe.My.God reports:

Deadspin has what may be the biggest scoop of last night’s opening ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics, noting that NBC edited out IOC president Thomas Bach making a “strong statement against ‘any form of discrimination’ and in favor of tolerance.” Everybody else in the world heard Bach’s statement, but Americans did not.

Joe has the text of the speech at the link above.

The activists arrested in Russia recounted the arrests.

The Washington Blade reports:

[Elena] Kostynchenko told the Blade the officers handcuffed some of activists to a cage in which they placed her and the other protesters once they brought them to a nearby police station. She said authorities beat one of them and choked another. Kostynchenko told the Blade that officers asked her and another female activist to go upstairs and perform oral sex on them – she noted they also made lewd comments about her body. Kostynchenko further alleges an officer also spit in her face.

Apparently protests in Sochi are fine… as long as you hate the gays.

Joe.My.God reports:

Anti-gay American preachers are rallying in support of Vladimir Putin on the streets of Sochi. And the cops are fine with that, of course. On Friday evening, while huge crowds made their way to the Olympic opening ceremony viewing party, the men warned that “Judgment is coming” and shook hands with anyone who would stop to listen. A few locals did. But more significantly, at a time when discussion of the Olympics is dominated by issues of discrimination, none of the large police presence near the station appeared to approach them.

One lesbian athlete at the games, Lesbian Austrian ski jumper and gay rights advocate Daniela Iraschko-Stolz, says the whole thing is being blown out of proportion.

Pink News reports:

The 30-year-old athlete, who is representing Austria in the Olympic Games, spoke to reporters about whether she was worried about the law prohibiting gay “propaganda” in Russia. She said: “No, on the contrary, I think everything is being blown up bigger than it is. I had a very good welcome like every other athlete. There were absolutely no problems.” … Commenting on her experiences in Russia, she said: ”Living in the Olympic village is much better than I’d ever imagined. At the moment I’m living like a fairy tale because as a child I always wanted to take part in the Olympics Games.”

So I guess, because she hasn’t been affected personally, everything is hunky dory. We can be so short sighted sometimes.

A former Olympic Athlete, now-out Swedish skier Anja Paerson, took the opposite view.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Paerson is working at the Sochi Olympics as an analyst for Swedish satellite TV provider Viasat and, since she’s here, she doesn’t mind discussing her opposition to Russia’s laws against gay propaganda. “I don’t agree with them and I think a lot of people don’t agree,” Paerson said in an interview with The Associated Press. “But it’s good to discuss it. “It’s an important statement for Sweden that I don’t allow anyone to choose how I should live my life — and that’s why I’m here and that’s why I’m doing this.”

Russia Freedom Fund and Athlete Ally have produced a powerful new Olympic-themed PSA about Russian homophobia.

Queerty reports:

In a powerful new PSA produced by the Russia Freedom Fund and Athlete Ally, discrimination is proclaimed “the newest Olympic sport.” Released by The Fair Games Project, the two-minute spot features a happy same-sex couple holding hands on a sporting field, only to be beaten by a team of Russian bullies while an onlooking crowd cheers, celebrates, and offers high scores in unwavering approval.

Gay rights activists in Hong Kong protested Russia’s anti gay laws Friday.

Gay Star News reports:

A group of about 30 LGBT and civil rights activists marched through busy city streets in Causeway Bay and ending at the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Hong Kong on Friday to protest Russia’s anti-LGBT laws. Organized by Socialist Action (Hong Kong), legislator Leung Kwok-hung of the League of Social Democrats, Women Coalition of HKSAR and Rainbow Action, the protest was held to coincide with the opening day of the Sochi Games and All Out’s Global Speakout for Russia campaign which had taken place in more than 25 cities last week.

And finally, hunky “Arrow” star Stephen Amell spoke out against the anti gay laws.

Queerty reports:

For everyone asking, we’re taking a mini hiatus so people can grit their teeth and suffer through an Olympic games marred by homophobia and mediocre levels of public interest. Back February 26th. … Follow up point — Good luck to all the athletes who have worked so hard for so many years and essentially geared their entire life around this opportunity. Hopefully, a lot of them will use their success and a public platform to remind everybody this isn’t the stone age.”

We’ll see what news the new day brings. Things are hopping in Russia and around the world over the Olympics and LGBT rights.

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