In just more than a week, the entire world will turn its attention to the winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. While most countries are on their best behavior while hosting the Games, the international spotlight has done little to rebuff Russia’s barbaric anti-gay policies.
When speaking with the BBC about how his city is preparing for the winter Olympics, Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov reiterated that visiting homosexuals have nothing to fear in Sochi (provided they keep their hands off the kiddos). He then proudly declared that “…we just say that it is your business, it’s your life. It’s not accepted here in the Caucasus where we live. We do not have them in our city.”
Well, how incredibly convenient. A complete lack of gay or lesbian individuals makes it much easier to enforce Russia’s recent “gay propaganda law” which makes it illegal to so much as mention homosexuality around minors.
It’s also a lie. “There are at least two gay clubs in the city,” Russia’s RT noted. Russian social networks also point to multiple lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities in the area.
When pressed, Pakhomov later admitted that he isn’t absolutely certain there are no gay people in Sochi. “I am not sure, but I don’t bloody know them,” he told the BBC.
Even more convenient. It’s much easier to hate something you don’t know or understand.
This episode of discriminatory speech is just the latest for Russia, leading some to question, yet again, why the Olympic Committee would have chosen Sochi as the site of the winter Olympics. After all, the games are supposed to be an event where all are welcome and have a chance to compete as equals on an international stage. Isn’t it hypocritical to allow a country with such a dramatic flair for homophobia to play host?
Many say yes, including the 27 Nobel laureates who joined Sir Ian McKellen in protest of Russia’s gay ‘propaganda’ ban, and multiple celebrities who’ve spoken out against the law. In a major move, the Obama Administration announced that no member of the Obama or Biden families would travel to attend the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, as a showing of solidarity with the homosexual community.
Calls for athlete boycotts of the winter Olympics in Sochi have met with mixed reviews, with people on both sides making compelling arguments. Ultimately, not much came of it, as this will be the biggest team the U.S. has ever sent to the winter Olympics.
Image: On September 7, 2013, a group of activists painted the pedestrian crossing stripes with rainbow colors in front of the Russian Embassy in Helsinki, Finland. The colors were meant to protest the Russian anti-LGBT sentimentality and legislation, notably the bans on “homosexual propaganda.” Credit: Murrur/Wikimedia Commons