Gay rights activists, including the original series’ George Takei, are calling for the 2014 Winter Olympics, due to be held in Sochi, Russia, to be moved somewhere else.
Russia recently passed legislation that “made it illegal to provide information about homosexuality to people under the age of eighteen in an effort to curtail ‘propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.'”
Russia’s sports minister intends to enforce the law at the Olympics. “An athlete of nontraditional sexual orientation isn’t banned from coming to Sochi,” said Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko. “But if he goes out into the streets and starts to propagandize, then of course he will be held accountable.”
Those breaking the new law, passed in June, can be fined up to $3,000, be jailed for up to fifteen days, and face deportation and a ban from re-entering Russia in the future.
“Given this position, the IOC must do the right thing, protect its athletes and the fans, and move the 2014 Winter Olympics out of Russia,” said Takei in an entry on his blog.
“The International Olympic Committee’s fundamental principles include an unequivocal statement: ‘The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.’ In specific response to the Russian law, the IOC, in a recent interview, doubled down: ‘[We] would like to reiterate our long commitment to not discriminate against those taking part in the Olympic Games. The IOC is an open organization and athletes of all orientations will be welcome at the Games.’ It appears Russia isn’t listening, and indeed now has raised the stakes by threatening arrests.”
“Nations are not judged merely on their might, but also by how they treat their most vulnerable,” said Takei. “Russia’s cynical and deplorable actions against the LGBT community have given license to hate groups within its borders to act with violence and impunity against a group, based solely on whom they were born to love. It now seeks to spread that hate abroad through its tainted Olympics. If Russia hopes to stand with the International Community, it must accept and adopt international principles of equality and non-discrimination.”
A petition is asking that the Olympics be moved to Vancouver, which was the host in 2010. To see and/or sign the petition, head to the link located here.