Do we stand by while love, humanity and justice are unfairly destroyed?
20 years ago, homosexuality was effectively decriminalized in Russia.
But this change on the political level hasn’t necessarily yielded de facto social change in attitudes towards the LGBTQ community. To be openly gay is to put oneself at risk for hate crimes and public humiliation. To be openly gay is to be forced into a subculture.
It’s important not to forget that the global struggle is far from over. Remember, feel joyful, celebrate that many countries and individuals have come to a more compassionate stance on LGBTQ rights. But remember Russia.
In June, a horrifying legislation was passed.
An amendment to Russia’s child protection law was made, devastatingly approved by a majority, and signed by Putin. The clause prohibits discussion of LGBTQ rights, relationships, and lifestyles in the public arena. Offenders, both individuals and organizations, would be fined—if the offender is foreign, they would even be deported.
The clause is loosely worded, yet it tightly restricts the freedom of expression for individuals who identify as LGBTQ. Anything from public affection between two individuals in a loving relationship to a gay pride event could be considered a violation.
Although this is meant to protect young people, the absence of comprehensive sexuality education is guaranteed to spread profound feelings of confusion and shame in young LGBTQ individuals. The Russian Orthodox Church, the neo-Nazi party, many prominent political forces, and now, officially, the government have all committed to making the LGBTQ community suffer and spreading ignorance.
The international tension is high, considering that the Winter Olympics will be hosted in Sochi in Russia, in all but six months.
And aren’t the Olympics a purely human tradition?
Doesn’t the right to transcend the limitations of one’s own body and fight to be an incredible athlete extend to all humans? Shouldn’t these athletes, shouldn’t all of the participants in the Olympics have pride in their country, as well as gratitude for the country they are hosted in? This law that inherently infringes on love grossly violates this right and hurts the pride, the global conscience Olympics participants and spectators.
Protests are finding footholds wherever they can. Quite a few bars in the U.K. and the U.S.A. have even dumped and boycotted Russian vodka. Words have been sent in multitudes to the Olympics as well as their backers. Some of the most remarkable, passionate, and breathtakingly beautiful come from Stephen Fry, the British actor, in his open statement about the crisis in Russia to the Olympics committee.
“Every time in Russia (and it is constantly) a gay teenager is forced into suicide, a lesbian ‘correctively’ raped, gay men and women beaten to death by neo-Nazi thugs while the Russian police stand idly by, the world is diminished and I for one, weep anew at seeing history repeat itself.”
The people who have made Russia a hostile place for equal rights to flourish should not be allowed to host the Winter Olympics. Do we stand by while love, humanity, and justice are unfairly smashed?
Below is contact information for multinational companies who have given the Olympics financial backing. Send the message along that we absolutely cannot support the Olympic Games being held in a place that demonizes the LGBTQ community. With enough protest, can we shake them financially and get their attention?
Elephants, let’s start a stampede.
1 (800) 242-2121 (General consumer line)
Email Visa Brand and Sponsorship: Roger Hacker, or use 650-432-4303.
Email Visa Travel & Tourism: Sarah Pew, or use 650-432-7917
Email Visa Corporate Responsibility and Financial Inclusion: Robert Meloche, or use 650-432-4560
GE contact form, or call 203-373-2211
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Ed: Bryonie Wise