In Russia, it is basically illegal to say that you are gay. You cannot kiss your partner in public. You can’t have a rainbow flag in public. You can’t even acknowledge that you are gay, or else you face possible imprisonment and fines.
Russia is becoming one of the most anti-gay places in the entire world. But it’s also going to hold the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, where the world is supposed to come together in a spirit of community and togetherness. But how could LGBT people and their families be welcome, when they run the risk of being thrown in jail or fined just for being who they are?
RUSA LGBT, a Russian-speaking American association for members of the gay community, says that LGBT athletes and spectators will not be safe during the 2014 Olympic games. And given the Russian government’s recent actions toward LGBT people -- including violent crackdowns on gay rights rallies and arresting members of the LGBT community -- how could anyone feel safe during these Olympic games?
That’s why I’m asking the major sponsors and partners of the Sochi 2014 Olympic games -- Coca-Cola, Panasonic, Samsung, Procter & Gamble, and Visa -- to condemn Russia’s anti-gay laws, which are some of the most repressive laws in recent history, and pull their sponsorship from Russia’s Olympic games. Do these companies want to be tied to an Olympics where LGBT athletes and spectators are likely to face harsh violence, prison, and brutality?
It’s time for these companies to put their support for LGBT people first, and send a message to Russia that their anti-gay laws are not only contrary to basic human rights, but fly in the face of the spirit of the Olympic Games, which celebrate human dignity and community above all else.