In June Russian President, Vladimir Putin made it a crime to “promote homosexuality or non-traditional relationships” in Russia, effectively criminalising homosexuality. This has been met with a global outcry.
Next year, Russia is due to hold the winter Olympic games. To me and thousands of others around the world, this must not be allowed to happen. The Olympics is about excellence, tolerance and respect - to hold the winter Games in Russia with in the current political climate of hate toward LGBTQ people is not compatible with those values.
It is not fair to ask athletes who have trained so hard to carry the burden of asking them to boycott next year's event. I am calling directly on the International Olympic Committee to move the games from Russia to Vancouver, Canada.
Vancouver was the last host of the winter games, so the facilities are ready to go. As a previous host it also knows how to project manage the events. If this isn’t possible then they could have the events in different countries.
The fight for freedoms for LGBTQ people has come a long way in recent times - but these new laws in Russia is a terrible and retrograde step. The world has a duty to stand together and show Russia that we will not stand by while they do this to their own citizens and visitors. Moving the 2014 Winter Olympics will show them that what they are doing is wrong
The United Nations recently declared that LGBTQ rights are human rights. Why it has taken over 30 years to do so still escapes me. Equality is not something that our governments should be debating; it is something they should be giving to all as a matter of course, irrespective of objections from people unwilling to challenge their own ignorance and hatred.
Asking countries, but most especially the athletes, to boycott the games is unfair to them. The games take place every four years and four years in an athlete’s lifetime is the difference between being at their peak and being past their best. I want to support them to achieve their life's ambitions.
As the IOC has stated, sexual orientation and gender should not stop anyone from competing. How does it intend to safeguard the rights of supporters and tourists? Without them the games would not be financially viable. The original Olympics were created to settle conflict by sport and not war. We now find ourselves in a war of Human Rights. The IOC has a moral duty to take up this rationale once more. Had Russia had these laws in place before 2009, laws which violate the most basic of human rights, they would never have been awarded the games. Most likely, their application would have been binned without ever have being read.
Now they want us to go back in the closet, to go against all of our principles and to lie. To lie and to hide who we are just so the games can go ahead without incident and they can have a clear conscience. But it won’t be stay clear for long. They’ve turned their backs on humanity, no doubt due to their laziness and undue pressure from everyone who has already sunk money into the games. Shame on you Jacques Rogge, shame on your organisation.
The ethics of your own Mission statement (section 2 of the Olympic charter) you are obligated to;
2.1 to encourage and support the promotion of ethics and good governance in sport as well as education of youth through sport and to dedicate its efforts to ensuring that, in sport, the spirit of fair play prevails and violence is banned;
2.4 to cooperate with the competent public or private organisations and authorities in the endeavour to place sport at the service of humanity and thereby to promote peace;
2.6 to act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement;
2.9 to encourage and support measures protecting the health of athletes;
On Friday 8 August 2013, 23 year old Vladislav Tornovoi, a known homosexual, was found dead after being sexually assaulted. He was brutally raped with beer bottles before having his skull smashed with a stone. Russia, which rarely does so, has declared this a hate crime.
The very next day Dimitri Kisilev, Deputy General Director of Rossiya 1, Russia’s state owned 24 hour news channel declared on live TV ‘’the hearts of gay people should be burned as they are not suitable for the continuation of life’’. This statement was met with overwhelming applause and support from the studio audience. If 1 in 10 people are recognised as LGBTQ, then logic follows that 1 in 10 organ donors are also. By ‘burning’ these organs, it equates to 1 in 10 terminally ill people that Mr Kisilev and his supporters condemns to death.
Russia has stated that its propaganda laws will not affect the games. However it has failed to address the problem of the militia groups that have sprung up, taking matters into their own hands after Putin effectively gave them a licence to kill. So what next from him? Will he remove women’s rights? Will he declare war on people because of race and creed or change child labour laws that benefit his administration but fail to protect those children?
Vancouver came to mind as it was the last host of the winter games and therefore should have the facilities in place. As the most recent host it also knows and retains the skills to project manage such a massive undertaking. However, I do understand that should this not be possible there is a second solution, one which could make the 2014 games a truly global event and quite possibly the most successful. That would be to host different events in different countries. For example, hockey and skating in Canada, skiing in Austria and so on and so forth’’