Russia claims gold in homophobia
Russia has been making quite a few headlines lately, and for all the wrong reasons.
Russia already has strained relations more than usual with the United States due to the asylum given to Edward Snowden, a former employee of the CIA and NSA who leaked surveillance details back in May. Recently, however, President Vladimir Putin passed a law that bans any propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors, limiting the rights of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex community.
This is just the most recent in a string of human rights violations by the Russian government, including banning gay pride parades and large fines for gay rights groups accused of being ‘foreign agents’.
I think we can all agree that this really overshadows anything to do with government leaks. This issue hits a more personal note than leaked surveillance information.
Russia will be hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi in just a few months. And with these new laws coming into play, there have been more and more violent attacks on gay individuals or ‘suspect gays’ in Russian cities. As a part of these new laws, officials are allowed to arrest and charge any individuals that they suspect as being gay, lesbian, transgender, or intersex.
So when all these athletes and spectators who have been waiting for and preparing for these Olympics for four years, they have a chance of being arrested or worse if they are suspected of being a part of the LGBTQ community.
The entire purpose of the Olympics is for the world to come together in the spirit of sports and global unity, so when the country hosting the Olympics passes laws taking away individual rights of not only the athletes and spectators, but of people from their own country, is that really showing the true spirit of the Olympics? Is that what they are really about? I don’t think so. And for me, the worst bit comes with knowing that the Olympic committee has done nothing about it.
I thought for a while that the world was taking some great leaps forward on the LGBTQ rights front, but we’ve taken a large step back.
It’s not even just the fines that bother me, but the fact that people who are suspected of this ‘propaganda’ can be deported from the Russian Federation, even after serving up to 15 days in jail and paying a fine between 4,000 and 100,000 rubles.
What does the government think that these people are going to do, hand out pamphlets to Russian youth about being gay?
It’s not like these individuals are forcing their lifestyle on people; they are just being who they are and who they want to be. Apparently, that is now a crime. Something as basic as just being YOU can now get you arrested.
Thankfully, the world has taken notice and is participating in a global protest of the anti-gay laws passed by Mr. Putin. Not only is there a petition going around to have the Olympics moved from Sochi back to Vancouver, but athletes from around the globe are marching in protest and carrying their rainbow flags with pride
Recently, Canadian athletes participated in a march protesting the new Russian laws and have been attending pride events all over the country in support of the LGBTQ community. Some are even calling for a rainbow flag to be sewn onto the uniforms of Canadian athletes.
Right now, I’m quite proud to be Canadian, and will continue to be proud as long as Canada fights for the right of individuals to be who they want to be, regardless of sexual preference or gender identity.
Imagine if all of these athletes were to show their support for this community; do you think that the Russian government would arrest them all, or would they be forced to repeal the laws due to overwhelming support for the cause?
Let’s hope that the world can unify in support of their LGBTQ brothers and sisters so that the true spirit of the Olympics will not be tarnished by hatred and homophobia.