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Russia: Will Country Get Its Own Defense of Marriage Act?

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

RussiaOne of Russia’s political parties wants to enshrine marriage inequality in the country’s constitution. reports:

The head of the Russian Pensioners’ Party has come up with an initiative to change the Constitution and define marriage as only being between a man and a woman. Igor Zotov, who is also a Lower House MP on the ticket of the center-left Fair Russia Party has explained his move by his assertion that Russia’s traditional values were under threat from the latest modern tendencies.

“I got this idea from the members of the Pensioners’ Party branches in Chelyabinsk and Sverdlovsk [major industrial regions in the Urals]. These people were extremely concerned over the processes that are currently taking place all over the world, in particular by the fact that the laws allowing gay marriage have been passed in 15 different countries and four regions within larger nations. Granting the same status to gay and traditional couples leads to the destruction of the family institution because the community tends to perceive as natural those models approved at the state level,” the lawmaker has told the popular daily Izvestia.

Bashing the gays is a tried-and-true path to political power. And in homophobic Russia, it’s probably the closest thing to a sure bet right now.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

What the world needs now…

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Is love, sRed Square, Russiaweet love. It’s the only thing, that there’s just too little of.” These song lyrics from the 1970s came to mind as I was watching the news this evening as details emerge from the Ukraine. Russia’s invasion of the Crimean peninsula and takeover of Ukrainian space is a dramatic and dangerous shift in Realpolitik in a part of the world that has seen more than its fair share of instability through the twentieth century. What NATO does next, and how the Russians respond to the financial aid packages that will begin flowing into Ukraine are yet to be determined. The events in Ukraine constitute a growing international crisis that has people all over western Europe.

It seems as if it were only a few weeks ago that LGBT activists were clamoring all over the social media spectrum about the Olympic games in Sochi, and how we fully expected the athletes or journalists to protest. No such protests emerged. Even Vladimir Putin gushed to the world about how well the games went and how no protests or rallies broke out. What these two events have in common is that the Russian government has swiftly changed the conversation from the games in Sochi to the rapidly changing events in Ukraine. What they don’t want to talk about with the world is their LGBT community and the fact that their anti-LGBT legislation has not gone away.

Likewise, the government in Uganda has passed a bill that criminalizes homosexuality and provides for tough sanctions against the LGBT community. No, the laws are not as draconian as Iran in which LGBT people are executed when caught. However, a life sentence in a Ugandan prison is the equivalent of a death sentence. Gay men are being rounded up, tortured, and killed solely for being gay. To intensify the problems facing the LGBT community there, the Ugandan Anglican church stands in support of the law and has threatened to split from the mainline Anglican communion.

Other nations have laws as harsh as Russia and Uganda. Other nations have cracked down on LGBT organizations and have denegrated our community to the fringes of society. It is for that reason, that our fight in Pennsylvania is even more important. We have to remain forever a beacon to the world. We have to remain a place of freedom and liberty. When we fight to spread love, we are fighting against the injustice inflicted on others in Uganda and Russia.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love,

No, not just for some but for everyone.

Russia LGBT Rights Update 2/11/14

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

RussiaThe news keeps rolling in about Russia, LGBT rights and the Sochi Olympics.

San Francisco’s mayor is flying the rainbow flag for LGBT rights in Russia, but refuses to be more explicit.

O-blog-dee-o-blog-da reports:

Blogger and LGBT activist Michael Petrelis keeps his eye keenly on the behavior of the City of San Francisco and here is his latest report on how Mayor Ed Lee has chosen to ignore our protests and concerns over the Olympics being held at Sochi despite the hate for gays and the anri-gay laws of Russia.

The head of the UK’s Olympic delegation says he won’t stop his athletes from protesting Russia’s anti gay laws.

Pink News reports:

Mike Hay, the former Olympic curler who is in charge of Britain’s delegation to Sochi, has said he “will not impede” athletes who want to protest. He told a press conference: “If an athlete comes to me and feels very strongly about being able to speak out, we would not impede them doing that, but we would need to make sure they are able to do that in a safe environment and their security would not be compromised.”

A Canadian PSA pokes fun at the anti-gay atmosphere at the Sochi Olympics.

Pink News reports:

A public service announcement from the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion shows two men in black body suits preparing to take off on a luge. To the tune of “Don’t You Want Me,” the men rock in rhythm in a movement that suggests absolutely what you think it does. The text at the end of the ad: “The games have always been a little gay. Let’s fight to keep them that way.” It’s the equivalent of a custard pie in Putin’s face.

In the UK, a street artist painted a mural in support of Russia’s LGBT community.

Dot429 reports:

As a gay street artist living in the United Kingdom, Chris Fleming said it was difficult for him to imagine the extent of the anti-gay sentiment in Russia. Therefore, Fleming—also known by the tag name ID4a—spoke out against the indecencies being committed against Russia’s LGBT community in the best way he knew how: he painted a mural. A striking display right in the heart of the bustling Newcastle city center, the mural depicts a uniformed man pushing a gay man to the ground; the latter’s hands are bound behind his back, his limbs entangled in the five Olympic rings. In the negative space that surrounds them, the same paragraph is printed over and over again: “Sport does not discriminate on ground of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise.”

Also in the UK, former Olympian and chairman of the British Olympic Association Lord Coe says boycotting the games would only make social change more difficult.

Pink News reports:

Speaking in Sochi, Lord Coe told the London Evening Standard that international sport can help promote social change. “We have to recognise there are very few countries you will take the Games to where somebody doesn’t have issues on foreign or domestic policy,” he said. “You have to be very careful with boycotts. Boycotts of this proportion only tend to hurt the athletes.”

In Sochi, President Vladamir Putin cuddled with a bisexual.

Pink News reports:

An openly bisexual Dutch speed skater who won gold at Sochi at the weekend has said she “got a cuddle” from Russian President Vladimir Putin after her win. Dutch bisexual speed skater Ireen Wüst yesterday won the second gold medal for the Netherlands at this year’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi… “I got a cuddle from him,” Wust told Dutch national broadcaster NOS.

And finally, a woman who created an online support group for LGBT teens is being charged under the “gay propaganda” law.

O-blog-dee-o-blog-da reports:

Lena Klimova, the founder and chair of the “Children-404” project, is accused of violating Russia’s “homosexual propaganda” ban. Kilmova is being charged because she created an online support community for at risk Russian LGBT teenagers. The case is based on a complaint from Vitaly Milonov, member of the St. Petersburg legislative assembly who sponsored the “propaganda” ban. Milonov is seeking to fine Klimova and to close down the project.

On January 17 Klimova was summoned to a local police station in her home city of NizhnyTagil to answer Milonov’s complaint against her. She was summoned a second time and served with an infringement notice. According to the infringement notice, Klimova “had registered a web page propagandizing non-traditional sexual relations among minors, which took form of distribution of information among minors aimed at forming of non-traditional sexual affirmations, attraction to non-traditional sexual relations, distorted conceptions of social equality of traditional and non-traditional sexual relations.”

Will events like these get any press while the Olympics are in full bloom?

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Russia: LGBT Rights Update 2/10/14

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Another day, some more news out of and about Russia, LGBT rights and the Olympic Games.

ChobaniFirst off, Chobani, the yogurt company who spoke out against the anti gay laws the other day, has the best tweeted pic of the day, with the tagline “Naturally Empowering Everyone.” Joe.My.God clued us into this one.

And Vodka maker Stoli is stepping up to support LGBT rights in Russia.

Passport Magazine reports:

Queer Nation’s boycott of Stolichnaya vodka has been ongoing since July. But for gay Stoli fans in Boystown, Chicago, the drought is over. Yesterday Stoli pledged a donation of $150,000 to the Russia Freedom Fund. This effort, in combination with Stoli’s previous donation of $300,000 to the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Leadership LAB program, has convinced many that the company has LGBT interests at heart.

Formula One Lotus TweetFormula 1 team Lotus had to apologize for tweeting a hot photo of two guys kissing in support of LGBT rights in Russia after management and shareholders complained. reports:

Formula 1 team Lotus was forced to apologize after publishing a tweet that featured two men kissing with the message: “Ahead of the opening ceremony, we would like to wish all athletes a successful 2014 Olympic Winter Games #Sochi2014” The BBC reports: The Lotus F1 tweet upset top management and shareholders of the team, who are owned by the investment group Genii Capital, because it was causing problems for their business.

In Croatia, a lesbian choir sang a song to honor Russia’s LGBT community.

Joe.My.God reports:

On the occasion of the opening of Olympic games in Sochi, Le Zbor, the first lesbian and feminist choir in southeastern Europe, published a video for the song Katjusha, expressing its solidarity with the LGBT citizens of Russia and worldwide. The video for Katjusha, directed by Tomislav Fiket, recorded by Jovan Kliska and edited by Fran Sokoli, most probably would be prohibited in Russia as “gay propaganda”. Thus, at the beginning of 2014, Katjusha is again a Russian rousing song!

More than 200 well known authors from around the world wrote an open letter to Putin urging an end to the country’s anti-gay laws. reports:

The letter, signed by Neil Gaiman, Salman Rushdie, Carol Ann Duffy, Jonathan Franzen and others, is a part of PEN International’s newly launched Out in the Cold campaign to raise awareness of threats to free expression around the globe.

“The story of modern Russia is the story of dramatic, almost seismic change. Russian voices, both literary and journalistic, have always striven to make themselves heard above the clamour of their nation’s unfolding story – commenting on it, shaping it and, in doing so, contributing to the political and intellectual shape of the world far beyond their country’s borders. But during the last 18 months, Russian lawmakers have passed a number of laws that place a chokehold on the right to express oneself freely in Russia. As writers and artists, we cannot stand quietly by as we watch our fellow writers and journalists pressed into silence or risking prosecution and often drastic punishment for the mere act of communicating their thoughts.”

At the games, an out lesbian from the Netherlands won a gold medal.

Buzzfeed reports:

Ireen Wüst, a speedskater from the Netherlands, won first place Sunday in the 3,000-meter competition in Sochi, defeating the defending champion from Czech Republic. She is one of few out LGBT olympians competing in Sochi. Wüst finished in just 4 minutes, 0.34 seconds — just ahead of Martina Sablikova, the defending champ. Sablikova took silver after stopping the timer at 4 minutes, 1.95 seconds, while Russia’s Olga Graf won the bronze medal, finishing in 4 minutes, 3.47 seconds. Graf’s medal is the first in the games for Russia, the host nation.

A straight Olympic bobsledder from Canada is accusing Russia of censoring his blog because of the “gay propaganda” law.

Gay Star News reports:

Straight Canadian Olympian Justin Kripps is accusing Russia of censoring his website for allegedly violating gay propaganda laws. The bobsledder used his site to keep fans updated on his activities, but after arriving in Sochi and trying to log on, he found himself blocked… Thouugh no decisive reason for the block has been given yet, it has been speculated that Kripps’ site was blocked due to Russia’s 2013 ban on the ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations amongst minors’, essentially the promotion of LGBT rights.

In a bit of irony, the gay anthem YMCA blared over the loudspeakers on Saturday.

Edge Boston reports:

Y.M.C.A,” for many a gay anthem, was played at full blast by organizers over the public address system at the Adler Arena speedskating oval during Saturday’s competition. With the crowd dancing and hopping to the disco hit of the Village People, the organizers pre-empted a difficult choice for the Dutch brass band that always performs at Olympic speed skating ovals, since Kleintje Pils feared performing the song might antagonize the Russian authorities.

Melanie Nathan talks about on the life of the LGBT community in Russia.

O-blog-dee-o-blog-da reports:

Channel 4 BBC TV went to Russia and did an in depth documentary on what life is really like being Gay in Russia. Will those crowds sitting cheering on the stands of SOCHI say “we did not know?” Will Johny Weir, Billie Jean King, Brian Boitano, our very own LGBT community members continue to turn their backs using fluffy inexcusable rhetoric, “we will wave our Rainbow Flag” as their ongoing excuse for ignoring the harsh reality and what really should be said and done? Will NBC and Matt Lauer continue their shameless silence with a “‘rah-rah’ we love the non-political games?” And what about the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the athletes and the coaches and the teams – how do you feel about participating in Valdimir Hitler Putin’s games? And as for VISA, Coca Cola et al- well you know what is going on and yet you take us so proudly to Sochi and ask for our support and even HRC, Human Rights Campaign, the preeminent and largest U.S. Gay organization continues its support for you, by serving up at Coke at its latest event.

Edge Boston profiles life in gay Sochi.

The mascara-lined eyes of a petite man dressed in a tuxedo greet visitors after they buzz at the armor-plated door of a one-storey building. Welcome to the Mayak cabaret, the most reputable gay club in Sochi, and one of the few safe places for gays in the Olympic host city to meet. Most of Mayak’s clients shy away from cameras and plead for anonymity. Not so Andrei Ozyorny, a 24-year-old Sochi native. Ozyorny, one of Mayak’s regulars, has recently done something that he feels proud of and which makes his partner fear for his business and safety.

And over at the Washington Blade, they’re profiling a gay Russian Doctor who is seeking asylum in the US.

A gay Russian doctor told the Washington Blade during an exclusive interview on Feb. 7 that he plans to seek asylum in the U.S. because of anti-gay persecution he said he faced in his homeland. “I have suffered persecution and discrimination in Russia due to my political views and sexual orientation,” said George Budny. “I am fearful for my safety, the safety of my family and friends and fearful of the fact that I will never be allowed to become a productive and successful member of society in my home country.” Budny, who is from St. Petersburg, spoke with the Blade in Dupont Circle hours after the 2014 Olympic Games officially opened in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi – and police in his hometown and Moscow arrested 14 LGBT rights advocates. Budny and his boyfriend also attended an opening ceremony viewing party at the Human Rights Campaign.

Russia: LGBT Rights Update 2/9/14

Sunday, 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.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

Russia: LGBT Rights Update

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

Lots of news from and about Russia for you this morning. First, lots more folks against the country’s anti gay laws.

Chobani YogurtChobani Yogurt, for one. reports:

The CEO of Chobani yogurt a U.S. Olympic Committee sponsor tells CNBC: “We oppose Russia’s anti-LGBT law.” Chobani follows AT&T, which two days ago denounced Russia’s anti-gay law and urged other USOC sponsors to come out and do the same<./blockquote>

And Devry University:

“As a USOC sponsor,DeVry Uni & its parent organization DeVry Education Grp ,supports the diversity of our US Olympic &Paralympic athletes…as well as our DeVry Grp colleagues around the world. We are against Russia’s anti-LGBT law & support efforts to improve LGBT equality.”

And firms across the UK. From Gay Web Source:

Many businesses including bars and restaurants will be Boycotting broadcasts of the Winter Olympics, including sports bars. One such venue is the Elbow Room which has two locations in Bristol and Leeds – in a statement to TheGayUK they said: The Elbow Room will not be screening any coverage of the Sochi Winter Olympics games in protest at President Putin’s 2013 law prohibiting the distribution of ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations’ and the consequential rise in anti-gay violence and hate crimes in Russia.

And gay dating site LGBT Weekly reports:

Pink Triangle Press, operator of gay adult dating site is launching its social media campaign just in time for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. The campaign portrays images of Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in explicit gay sexual acts with quotes from Putin himself. The goal of the campaign is to protest against Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law.

Annie Russia KissAnd Norwegian pop star Annie, who released a song called Russian Kiss with an accompanying video, full of gay kissing. reports:

Towleroad previewed Norwegian pop dance artist Annie’s “Russian Kiss” collaboration with Richard X earlier this week and now the full track is out, complete with a video full of same-sex kissing.

Berlin Rainbow FlameAnd Berlin gay rights advocates. LGBTQ Nation reports:

Gay rights activists in Berlin on Friday cheered and waved placards reading “Stop Homophobia” at the lighting of an Olympic-style ‘”Rainbow Flame” that will burn for the next 16 days while the Winter Olympic games takes place in Sochi, Russia. The project, by Berlin-based advocacy group Enough is Enough, is intended to highlight anti-LGBT violence and human rights violations in Russia.

Think Progress wonders if the protests in Sochi will ultimately have any effect:

Among Russians who oppose the law, there is concern that protesting it at the Olympics won’t change Putin’s mind. Instead, they worry, it could have the opposite effect. “Putin is not the kind of person who concedes under pressure, and has never been,” Masha Lipman, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Moscow Center, said during a roundtable discussion in November. “It’s just the opposite. The more there’s pressure, the more aggressive he gets. I would say this makes him popular. We’re a proud nation. We would not allow anyone to teach us or preach to us.”

Putin is discouraging any protests. Reuters reports:

President Vladimir Putin made clear on Friday that he believed the Sochi Winter Olympics were not the place to debate Russia’s treatment of gays. Putin used a meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country has criticised Russia on gay rights, to underline the message that politics and sport should not be mixed. “I know you always give much attention to humanitarian issues and adherence to human rights,” Putin told Rutte in Sochi, shortly before the Games opening ceremony. “We are always open to discussion.” But the Russian leader added that he had seen a television report in which he said a man in a gay club in the Black Sea resort told journalists: “Leave us alone. Sport is sport. The Olympics are the Olympics. Let’s focus.”

olympic-flag-bloodSpeaking of protests, the NYC one included dumping blood on the Olympic flag. Queerty reports:

There’s blood on the Olympic flag. Fake blood, for now, but with Russian police now arresting LGBT organizers in multiple cities, that could change. Queer Nation held a protest in New York yesterday, dumping fake blood on an Olympic flag outside the Russian Consulate. According to Queer Nation spokesman Ken Kidd, “We’ve focused on NBC and major Olympic sponsors like Coke and McDonalds, who pay lip service to equality while profiting from inequality and ignoring Putin’s human rights atrocities.”

In Australia, activists plan for 70,000 to hold hands in solidarity with Russia’s LGBT community on Sunday. Gay Star News reports:

70,000 will hold hands at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras to show their support for gay people in Russia. The event on 9 February will see Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras join forces with the Asia Pacific Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association (GLISA-AP) to stage a mass photo of people holding hands to voice their support for the LGBTI community in Russia. The project aims to show solidarity for competitors in the Winter Olympics and LGBTI people who face discrimination from the Russian government.

The number of arrests in Russia this week of gay activists has now grown to at least 14. On Top Magazine reports:

The AP reported that 4 gay rights activists were arrested in St. Petersburg on Friday. The demonstrators, who gathered on St. Petersburg’s Vasilyevsky Island, barely managed to unfurl a banner quoting the Olympic Charter’s ban on any form of discrimination before they were carted off by police. Russia in June outlawed the promotion of “gay propaganda” to minors. The Russian online news site reported 10 additional arrests in Moscow.

Think Progress has a list of attendees to watch for “gay propaganda” during the Games:

1. David Remnick: NBC has hired New Yorker editor David Remnick to offer commentary on political issues from Sochi, which means it will literally be his job to discuss the impact of the “gay propaganda” law. Remnick has said he plans to be “honest in my analysis,” analysis that will surely reflect his extensive understanding of Russian politics and support for LGBT equality.

The Irish Mirror looks at some of the colorful fashion being worn at the Games in defiance of Putin’s ban:

The start of the Winter Olympics became the open ceremony yesterday as athletes protested Russia’s tough anti-gay laws in colourful fashion in Sochi. President Vladimir Putin was left red-faced at the £30billion extravaganza when the German team proudly showed off rainbow uniforms in defiance of his “gay propaganda” ban. This followed a number of embarrassing slip-ups at the opening ceremony, including the fifth giant Olympic ring failing to open at the Fisht Stadium. Earlier, Google showed its support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes by using a rainbow – the symbol for gay pride – instead of its iconic logo.

Former Vikings player and gay rights ally Chris Kluwe took the IOC to task for its hypocrisy. LGBT Weekly reports:

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), chief benefactor of these big money sponsors, has determined that any athlete speaking out in “accredited areas” against the human rights violations occurring in Russia right now will be found in violation of the Olympic Charter, banned from the games, and stripped of any medals. Corporate sponsorships, the pot of gold at the end of the Olympic rainbow, will disappear. A lifetime spent preparing, training, hour after agonizing hour, will have been for naught if an athlete dares to make a political statement at the wrong time about political events happening in a politicized Olympics; politicized in no small part by the IOC refusing to uphold their own charter when it applies to themselves. How can the IOC get away with this blatant disregard of their own rules? Easy. The IOC has what Olympic athletes want. Money. Power. Fame.

And President Obama just admitted to sending a message to Russia with the US’s choice of delegates to the Games. reports:

“There is no doubt we wanted to make it very clear that we do not abide by discrimination in anything, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. One of the wonderful things about the Olympics is that you are judged by your merit, how good you are regardless of where you come from, what you look like, who you love and that I think is consistent with the spirit of the Olympics.”

In addition to Google and Channel 4, a number of other organizations have changed their logos to protest the Russian laws. They include Varmlands Folkblad, a Swedish daily. Joe.My.God reports:

Perhaps having noted the action of Britain’s Channel 4, one of Sweden’s most-read dailies has rebranded its logo in rainbow colors in solidarity with Russia’s LGBT people. From the editor: “Inauguration ceremonies for the Winter Olympics have begun in Sochi. We will be watching the competition, but we also want to show that we do not like that the organizers have brutally exploited the workers who built Sochi’s facilities. Additionally, we want to protest against the Russian authorities and their persecution of homosexuals. We do this by using the LGBTQ movement’s rainbow flag. As long as the Sochi Olympics are in progress, the VF logo will be seen in the rainbow’s beautiful and tolerant colors. We stand for human rights and equality of all people.”

UK Guardian GayIn addition, The Advocate notes that The Guardian in the UK, along with a number of other groups and organizations, has gone gay in support of Russia’s LGBT community:

Likewise, The Guardian also went over the rainbow on its online news site, posting a modified logo with a rainbow-colored “g” in its title.

Russia: Updates on Sochi and the Anti Gay Laws

Friday, February 7th, 2014

As the Sochi olympics get underway, we have some updates on the games and Russia’s anti gay propaganda law.

Dutch SnowboarderOur favorite story of the morning – Dutch snowboarder Cheryl Maas showed her support for the LGBT community at the end of her run. reports:

Dutch snowboarder Cheryl Maas, who is one of six openly gay athletes competing in Sochi, failed to qualify in the slopestyle event at Sochi yesterday and will have to try again on Saturday. As the camera focused on Maas at the end of her run she looked right into it and lifted a gloved hand to the lens – which just happened to be covered in unicorns and rainbows.

This is awesome in so many ways.

Google FoodleGoogle also jumped on the protest bandwagon. reports:

Google’s Doodle has gone rainbow in an apparent response to the Sochi Games and Russia’s law banning ‘gay propaganda’. A quote from the Olympic Charter sits below the doodle: “The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

How many millions of people use Google and will see this meassage? I wonder if it’s appearing in Russia?

Channel Four Rainbow LogoThe UK’s Channel 4 also got into the act.

Joe.My.God reports:

This is fantastic. Via the Guardian: Channel 4 is to rebrand its on-screen logo with rainbow colours of the gay pride flag – and launch a TV ad campaign called “Gay Mountain” – joining the rising wave of protests about Russia’s anti-gay laws on the eve of the opening of the Sochi Winter Olympics. Channel 4, which has the TV broadcast rights to the Winter Paralympics, joins the growing ranks showing their support for gay athletes and protest against Russia’s anti-gay laws.

In other news, Asian leaders seemed unconcerned by the debate over LGBT rights at the Games.

Edge Boston reports:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Chinese counterpart appear not to be bothered by the international ruckus over Russia’s law restricting gay rights. Unlike President Barack Obama, who pointedly declined to attend the Winter Olympics, the leaders of the world’s second and third largest economies – where gay rights are not a hot-button political issue – are going to Sochi. Also skipping the event are French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron and German President Joachim Gauck.

Not surprising, given that gays in both countries have very few rights.

Queerty takes a look at the protests, and what may happen next:

The Russian government will not take kindly to protests in Russia proper, to stay the least, so while the games offer a world stage for activists, they’ll be subjected to a brutal police force backed by harsh anti-propaganda laws. The wimpy IOC isn’t making things any easier by walking on eggshells, and for gay and hundreds of pro-gay straight athletes whose competitive (and sponsorship) aspirations hinge on these Olympics, dreams of the podium should and will occupy almost every waking thought. Even so, we foresee high drama and lots of conflict — that much we can be sure of. Here’s a look at the ways people are already protesting, what we may see once the games are under way and what you can do.

Gay activists are launching a Sochi war room in New York.

The New York Times reports:

Activists angry about a law in Russia against “homosexual propaganda” are intensifying efforts to mock and minimize the Winter Games. Some intend to operate what they call a #CheersToSochi War Room on Friday, during the NBC coverage of the opening ceremony, in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan. The name refers to a hashtag in social media promoted by McDonald’s that was co-opted by protesters to the point where McDonald’s stopped using it. The war room initiative will give participants a chance to “provide alternative commentary, using Twitter, Facebook and social media networks,” an invitation on Facebook reads, and “challenge the pro-Russia, pro-International Olympic Committee and sponsor-driven messages broadcast by NBC.”

Russia has arrested four gay rights activists in St. Oetersburg.

Gay Star News reports:

Russia has made the first arrests of the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. Four gay rights activists, including one pregnant woman, were arrested in St Petersburg today. LGBTI advocate Anastasia Smirnova led the group holding a banner, according to the Russian LGBT network. It said: ‘Discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic Movement. Principle 6. Olympic Charter.’ Speaking to Gay Star News, a police spokesman confirmed the arrests and said they would be held until further notice. They could answer no further questions at this time.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

Russia: Pressure Mounts on Anti Gay Law as Sochi Olympcs Begin

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Red Square, RussiaThere’s lots going on around russia’s so-called “gay propaganda” law as the Winter Olympics prepare to open.

First off, AT&T has become the first sponsor to speak out against the law.

Pink News reports:

US Olympic Committee sponsor AT&T has spoken out to condemn Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law as the country prepares to host the Winter Olympic Games. In a blog post, the telecommunications giant said that it condemns the “violence, discrimination and harassment targeted against LGBT individuals everywhere.” Although AT&T is not an international sponsor like McDonald’s or Coca-Cola, it has backed the US team for over 30 years.

Next, the UK’s Shadow Foreign Minister, Kerry McCarthy, s urging the government to challenge Russia over the law.

Pink News reports:

Labour has repeatedly called on the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to challenge President Putin, to leave him in no doubt that Russia’s rejection of LGBT rights is in violation of international law, of the Olympic ideal, and of basic human decency. The responsibility now falls to Maria Miller, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, who will be leading the UK’s Winter Olympics delegation. David Cameron has failed to follow President Obama’s lead, who has made a point of including prominent gay sports stars in the USA’s official delegation, but Maria Miller is also the Minister for Equalities who sponsored the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act through Parliament. So, when the Secretary of State for Sport attends the Opening Ceremony and meets with Russian dignitaries, representing everyone in the UK and everything the UK stands for, she must be a proud and vociferous advocate for equalities.

The UN is also spacing out against the law.

Edge Boston reports:

A U.N. committee on children’s rights urged Russia on Wednesday to repeal its law banning pro-gay “propaganda” that could be accessible to minors, arguing that the legislation encourages discrimination and even violence. The United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of the Child noted that the stated intent of the law is to protect children but said it “encourages stigmatization of and discrimination against” gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, including children.

Gay Web Source reports on a protest planned for London (and other cities) tonight against the law:

With just a day away from the Sochi Winter Olympics opening, gay rights protesters will be taking to the streets of cities around the world to protest the treatment of LGBT people in Russia. A mounting disquiet has been bubbling away as the world’s spotlight is now cast upon Russia’s dreadful treatment of LGBT people, as an event that threatens to permanently damage the Olympics’ brand starts tomorrow.

But Russia is pressing ahead with its newly virulent anti-gay tendencies, as the Kremlin will play host to an anti gay convention in September:

In September the virulently anti-gay World Congress of Families will hold its convention at the Kremlin. Via press release: World Congress of Families VIII with the theme “Every Child A Gift: Large Families, the Future of Humanity” will be held in Moscow, September 10-12, 2014 to gather all people of goodwill who affirm the natural family as the fundamental institution for a prosperous society. Over 5,000 delegates and leaders are expected to attend. The opening session of WCF VIII will be in the Congress Hall of the Kremlin Palace. A special WCF parliamentary session will also be held in the Russian Duma and a special scientific forum at St Petersburg State University. The closing ceremony will be held at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral — the tallest Orthodox Cathedral in the world.

This is the same group US House Speaker John Boehner provided meeting space for after they were kicked out of a US Senate meeting room by Senator Mark Kirk last November.

The games begin tomorrow – will there be protests, and if so, will the protesters be arrested?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

Russia: High Court Finds Ban on “Gay Propaganda” Constitutional

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

RussiaRussia’s high court just ruled on the anti-gay propaganda law, and found it constitutional.

Towleroad reports

The Constitutional Court dismissed a complaint from Nikolai Alexeyev, a leading gay rights campaigner, that St. Petersburg city council had acted unconstitutionally by passing legislation to ban the promotion of homosexuality among minors… The ruling regarded a May 2012 case in which Alexeyev had been fined for holding up a poster featuring a quote: “Homosexuality is not a perversion, unlike grass hockey or ice ballet.” The quote was made by Soviet-era actress Faina Ranevskaya. Alexeyev had asked the court to rule that the law was based on prejudice and permitted discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation. But the judges concluded that the Constitution obliged the State to protect motherhood, childhood and family.

Straight family good. Gays bad. Oh yes, the folks at the National Organization for Marriage would be in heaven in Russia. We suggest that they move there.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

Russia: Olympic Committee – We’re Totally Fine with Russia’s Anti-Gay Law

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Sochi OlympicsApparently, Olympic officials are on-board with Russia’s assurances that its anti-gay laws won’t be enforced during the Olympics.

Joe.My.God reports:

OC officials told a news conference in Sochi, where they were making their final inspection tour before the Games begin Feb. 7, that they were “fully satisfied” that a Russian law banning gay propaganda does not violate the Olympic charter’s anti-discrimination guarantee, the Associated Press reported. The committee considered its decision for several days, IOC Chairman Jean-Claude Killy said, but finally agreed it lacked authority to criticize a host country’s laws if they did not specifically violate Olympic rules. Russian officials have issued contradictory statements about how the law might be enforced. Some have promised that gay athletes and spectators will not encounter any problems, but others have warned that all visitors must respect the nation’s laws.

You can almost feel them squirming as they try to get out of the situation that Russia has stuck them in.