The Kremlin has begun to issue reassurances to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that they will not discriminate against LGBT people during the Sochi Olympics, but they are refusing to backdown on their anti-gay laws none the less claiming that they are not homophobic because they also arrest and incarcerate and fine straight people under them as well.
The letter from Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak states that “The Russian Federation guarantees the fulfillment of its obligations before the International Olympic Committee in its entirety,” and gives reassurances that Russia will comply with the Olympic Charter.
However, Kozak stated that they will not backdown from the issue of gay “propaganda” and the ban thereon. Kozak claimed that the law is being applied to everyone thus it “cannot be regarded as discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
Kozak’s letter claims that the legislation does not impose any restrictions upon sexual orientation, and that the Russian constitution prohibits discrimination based upon sex, race or religion. Which is, of course, a big comfort to the Pentacostals who recently had their church torn down, the Hasidic Jews who have been assaulted and the other minorities who have had their lives disrupted through hate crimes that remain uninvestigated.
Kozak claims that the law centers only on the “restriction of information that promotes non-traditional sexual relationships among children.” The law does not specify anything with regards to what constitutes information or promotion of ‘non-traditional sexual relationships.’
The letter claims that “These requirements do not attract any limitations for participants and spectators of the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi on their legal right of residence in the territory of the Russian Federation or participation in any events stipulated in the Games program that are contradictory to the Olympic Charter or universally recognized standards of international law on human rights.”
Since the law bans any and all displays that could ‘influence’ children into thinking that homosexuality is normal, it could be applied to any couple who kisses or holds hands in public.
The Russian authorities have not said what they would do to anyone they felt violated that law.
The law has created a strong backlash. One Facebook page has been started to demand that Coca Cola, a sponsor of the 2014 Olympics, drop their sponsorship of the games. They state “The Coca Cola Company is sponsoring Russian government hate at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. In June, Russia enacted its anti-gay propaganda law that bans any pro-LGBT statement in public or private and on the Internet. The Russian government has made being out and proud a crime. Coke is a World Partner and a major sponsor of the Games.”
They are planning a protest in Times Square on 28 August.
Do not expect any support from the IOC either. Count Jacques Rogge has pretty much stated that “We have today received strong written reassurances from the Russian government that everyone will be welcome at the games in Sochi regardless of their sexual orientation.”