Will Russia's Anti-Gay Laws Lead Protesters to Boycott the 2014 Sochi Olympics?
The Olympics 2014 is being held in Sochi, Russia, where anti-gay laws centered around supposed pro-gay propaganda and the promotion of non-traditional sexual orientation are enforced. An international sports event that attracts millions of people around the world is currently positioned at the forefront of human rights issues. But Russia's recent legislation denying gay rights should not intervene with the purpose and foundation of the Olympics.
While some cultures continue to be apprehensive of non-traditional lifestyles, policies and regulations against certain freedoms are often cast aside to make the host nation more hospitable for guests, like during the Beijing Olympics.
As reported on USA Today: “Russia's contentious law was signed by President Vladimir Putin in late June, imposing fines on individuals accused of spreading propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors, and even proposing penalties for those who express these views online or in the news media. Gay pride rallies also are banned."
To be clear, these controversial laws do not affect participants who identify as homosexual at the Olympics.
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko tells R-Sport, "No one is forbidding an athlete with non-traditional sexual orientation from coming to Sochi, but if he goes onto the street and starts propagandizing it, then of course he will be held accountable."
It appears as though these penalties are targeted towards individuals who publicly disseminate information and participate in the promotion of gay rights, especially towards minors. It's upsetting that this particular law prohibits gays from influencing young people — as if gay activism is a presupposed threat to minors.
It's evident that President Putin and Sports Minister Mutko are against the public display of LGBT activities, but this should not be a major safety concern for athletes during the 2014 Olympics even if the international sports event is being held in Russia.
"President Putin will risk his country's international reputation if these Games go ahead with laws in place that are in fundamental opposition to Olympic values."
Protests and gestures have already taken place in response to Russia's laws on the matter. International groups such as Human Rights Campaign and the European Court of Human Rights are criticizing Russia's persistence to ban gay activism at the Olympics.
According to R-Sport, "… the legislation has attracted calls from activists around the world to boycott Russia's first Winter Olympics."
This legislation will only make matters worse for Russia, its constituents, and the participants of the Olympics. These laws that are blatantly prejudicial can easily be cast aside by taking into consideration the values of the Olympics: respect, value, excellence, and equality.