Russia will take the global spotlight in 2014 to host one of the most respected athletic events in the history of mankind that aim to resonate peace, love, and sportsmanship. However, in recent months, its government has passed broadly sweeping and deplorable laws that are aimed at prohibiting the freedoms of LGBT citizens and its LGBT tourists to the point that even speaking in favor of their rights can lead to massive fines, indefinite imprisonment and physical assault by both police and hate groups.
Among the numerous laws, President Vladimir Putin and his fellow lawmakers have implemented a ban same sex couples from adopting Russian-born children, and now allow police forces to arrest foreigners they suspect as being "pro gay." Additionally, they have outlawed "homosexual propaganda" as pornography.
The climate in the country is also incredibly hostile towards the LGBT community. It’s no secret that in 2012 and 2013, gay pride marches in Moscow were overrun by violent anti-gay protestors and hate groups. Police forces joined in, many who were recorded to have savagely assaulted and beaten the peaceful marchers. Many LGBT activists were arrested and imprisoned simply for simply being in attendance.
The laws approved by Russian lawmakers, and signed into the books by President Vladimir Putin pile on not just insult onto this dangerous situation, but put the lives of Russian citizens and those visiting Russia who belong to the LGBT community in deep jeopardy. By continuing to allow Russia to host the games, the International Olympic Committee will be seen as supporting the violation of human rights and putting international athletes and fans in grave danger.
"Build a better world by promoting the Olympic Truce and using sport to forge friendship among the athletes, young people and communities," is the inspiring motto that the IOC has selected for its "Peace Through Sport" mission. However, unless Russia changes its anti-LGBT laws and no longer supports the war against the global LGBT community, the 2014 games will not live up to that goal.
We encourage the IOC to immediately suspend the 2014 Sochi Winter Games and to openly and clearly urge the Russian government to stop the oppression of its most vulnerable, starting by the repeal of its anti-LGBT laws.