As Dan Savage says, this interview with Masha Gessen on Chris Hayes’ show is required viewing. In it, Gessen explains that one of the next anti-gay laws coming down the pike in Russia would be one that would take children away from gay parents. As a gay parent herself, this has motivated her to go ahead and move out of Russia. Gessen is fortunate enough to be in a position that she can do that, but many other Russians won’t be. She also explains that yes, all the boycotts are working, in that they’re putting Russia in the spotlight in a way they never expected, and they know the world is watching.
Dan also points to another highly disturbing new development leading up to the Olympics in Russia. Vladimir Putin has issued a “terror decree,” which bans all meetings, protests and demonstrations during the Sochi Olympics:
According to the decree, which purports to be about security surrounding “anti-terrorism protection,” all “meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets” are banned in Sochi, from a period starting one month before the Olympics, and extending into March of 2014.
This fits a larger pattern of Russian threats against Olympics in the past few weeks, when both the Russian Sports Minister, Vitaly Mutko, and the Russian Interior Ministry, responsible for overseeing domestic order (i.e., clamping down on dissidents and any public criticism of the Kremlin), threatened to jail gay and gay-friendly Olympians, guests and media during the Sochi games.
Russia’s new threats, which appear to tie gay human rights – and any freedom of speech during the Winter Olympics – to “terrorism” (is it just a coincidence that a “terror” document banning free speech at Sochi comes out now?) is sure to further depress turnout at what was already considered one of the most unsafe Olympic games in recent memory.
And there’s an even greater headache now for the International Olympic Committee.
Any violation of Russia’s draconian anti-gay “propaganda” law during the Sochi Olympics is now a violation of a Russian anti-terrorism decree.
That would seem to raise the crime of being openly gay to an entirely new and dangerous level: An act of terrorism.
And what exactly is the price one pays for violating anti-terror decrees in Russia? Our Olympians may soon find out.
At that link, John Aravosis points out that the IOC really has egg on its face at the moment, as they assured everyone just yesterday that no one will be discriminated against at the Sochi Olympics. Russia has claimed that their anti-gay laws aren’t discriminatory, because they’ll jail straight people for gay propaganda just like they’ll jail gay people, or something daft like that. The IOC tried to assuage everyone’s fears with this statement:
The International Olympic Committee has today received strong written reassurances from the Russian government that everyone will be welcome at the Games in Sochi regardless of their sexual orientation.
In his letter deputy Prime Minister Kozak underlines that ‘Russia has committed itself to comply strictly with the provisions of the Olympic Charter and its fundamental principles, according to item 6 of which “any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”
He adds that, ‘The Russian Federation guarantees the fulfillment of its obligations before the International Olympic Committee in its entirety.’
The IOC is clear that sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation. The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and of course athletes. We would oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardise this principle.
As John Aravosis said, the IOC leader who made that statement is “either an idiot, a liar, or both.” Reacting further to the fact that the IOC is taking the Russians at their word when they say they aren’t being discriminatory, John continues:
For the IOC to suggest that this is not discriminatory is akin to suggesting that the Soviets had no problem with Jews, so long as Jews stayed in the closet and nobody knew they were there. It is to suggest that the fault lies with the minority itself. And it is by far the worst thing the IOC has done yet on this issue, since it is quite literally sanctioning hate and cloaking it in tolerance.
At least one thing is now clear: The IOC is in bed with the Russians, and has zero interest in defending either human rights or the Olympic charter. (Ironically, the US Olympic Committee recently said the Russian law violated the Olympic spirit, while the IOC now claims it’s in the best spirit of the Olympics. Perhaps they need to get their propaganda straight, as it were.)
So I guess at this point, we can simply thank the International Olympic Committee for betraying absolutely everything it stands for during these upcoming Olympic Games.
It’s safe to say it’s only going to get worse from here.