Russian homophobia: don’t boycott – protest at the Games Comment on this post ↓
August 14th, 2013 by Warren Swil

Gay Rainbow flag

should be carried by

each country’s athletes

Vladimir Putin has been compared to Hitler because of his scapegoating of gays. Click image to enlarge.

SINCE RUSSIA PASSED its new law banning any form of public display of support for gay causes, there has been a worldwide outcry against its homophobia.
Many have called for a boycott of the Winter Olympics set for Sochi in 2014, but the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday that such an action is being widely rejected – including by President Obama who came out against it last Friday.
Here is a better idea:
All the athletes attending – and the officials accompanying them – should engage in “civil disobedience” at the games and display the internationally recognized Rainbow flag on their outfits at every public appearance.
Let’s see if Vladimir Putin has the balls to arrest them all.

DETAILS OF THE NEW LAW were reported by Andrew Roth in The New York Times on Aug. 1.
In  Athletes in Sochi to Be Barred From Advocating Gay Causes he wrote:
“Russia’s minister of sports, Vitaly L. Mutko, said on Thursday that foreign athletes traveling to Russia for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi would be expected to obey a new Russian law banning “homosexual propaganda” or face criminal prosecution.”
Since then, there has been an international outcry, including an anti-Russia protest in London on Aug. 10.
“The statement seemed sure to stoke criticism of the law,” Roth added, “which has already become a point of contention for the Games, with some calls for a boycott. Legislation and statements by the Russian Orthodox Church and political officials about the law have been denounced as homophobic.”

The web site of British broadcaster Stephen Fry who initially called for an international boycott of the games, but now supports a protest at the event. Click image to enlarge.

Homophobic they most certainly are, but they are also out of step with the rest of the world, with most countries moving steadily towards granting full equal rights – including marriage equality – to their homosexual citizens.
But the calls for an international boycott seem to be losing steam.
In a report in the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday, West largely rejecting calls for Olympic boycott over Russia anti-gay law Carol Williams summarizes reaction from officials around the world to the boycott proposal:
“Athletes, sports officials and politicians worldwide have condemned recent Russian legislation that criminalizes public displays of support for gays and lesbians. But an international consensus is building that to boycott the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi would be counterproductive,” Williams writes.
“Since President Obama said Friday that he was opposed to the idea of a boycott because of the blow that would deal to athletes who have been training for years to compete, other Western leaders have echoed that sentiment and said they wouldn’t call for their national teams to stay home from the Games in the Russian Black Sea resort.”

The Los Angeles Times story about waning support for the Olympics boycott. Click image to enlarge.

Obama was joined by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who also rejected calls for a boycott.
A boycott would seem to be self-defeating. It would allow the Russians to believe that hatred and bigotry would go unpunished.
But British broadcaster Stephen Fry, who initially advocated a boycott, seems to have come up with a better idea.
Initially, Fry – who compared Putin to Hitler in an open letter to Cameron and the International Olympic Committee on his blog – called on Aug. 7 for Britain and the world to boycott the games.
But according to an Aug. 10 report by the BBC, he has since changed his views.
“Fry called on athletes attending and make a symbolic protest, suggesting it could be a gesture such as crossing their hands in front of their chest, which he went on to demonstrate.”
This is an excellent idea.
Flagrant civil disobedience might be far more effective in getting the message across to the Russian people, who largely support the new policies.
When the athletes parade at the traditional opening and closing ceremonies, along with their national flags each delegation could carry the Rainbow flag in support of the cause of gay rights in Russia.
A public outpouring of support, in violation of Russian law, would be a frontal assault on the homophobia and bigotry shared by so many Russians.
It would be something they could not ignore – unless they turned off their televisions!
The host country would be enormously embarrassed, just as it should be.
No, let’s drop the idea of a boycott.
Far better to go into the lion’s den and flout our defiance in its face.


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3 Responses  
  • Bjorn in San Diego writes:
    August 14th, 2013

    What a great idea! The athletes have trained for years for this, so they should go! Have each country bring a rainbow flag to the games, together with their own, would be great idea, except some other ignorant and homophobic countries may not want to go for it!

    • tired of discrimination writes:
      August 23rd, 2013

      How about we get some hackers to infiltrate the big screen signal during the olympics and superimpose a rainbow flag in the background whenever a Russian athlete is competing?

      • Warren writes:
        August 23rd, 2013

        that is a terrific idea … know anyone smart enough to pull it off?
        I dont.
        Massive civil disobedience – especially by internationally famous athletes – certainly would give Putin a red face … if not a black eye.

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