Olympics in Russia

Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, signed a law in June which prohibits the promotion of non traditional sexual relationships to minors. It has been widely interpreted as not only banning gay pride parades (because children might see them) but also from preventing any discussion of homosexuality among teenagers. This has made both gay athletes as well as speculators fearful that there will be discrimination or, worse yet, arrests made at the Olympics.

Some activists wonder whether an Olympic boycott is in order. President Obama condemned the new Russian law but counseled against boycotting the event. After the IOC statement various organizations said they would apply pressure to sponsors, including Coca-Cola, Mcdonald’s, General Electric, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, Panasonic and Visa. The mayor Sochi, the city that the event is to be held in, insists that there is no reason for the alarm. He stated, “We are a multi – ethnic and tolerant city. We respect each other. We respect different points of view.” He went on to say, in reference to the gay community, “It is their right to be as they are. We just don’t want them to force their ideas on others.”

In a later interview with a young man who discussed his life in the city of Sochi as a gay resident, we came to find the truth. He had to drop out of school because somebody hacked his social media page and publicly announced his sexual orientation to his classmates. He was taunted constantly. When he discussed the issue with his psychologist she asked if he could possibly change his sexual outlook. He says the new law has changed everything. “Now homophobic attitudes are expressed openly on TV. It gives homophobes approval to beat up gay people.”

Homophobic attitudes and attacks such as those mentioned by the Sochi resident can extend to discrimination at work, hiring, and even the real estate market. Recently I discussed such discrimination with a real estate expert from Australia. She currently writes about real estate investment advice for an online site and felt that it might make for an interesting post later in the year. We’ll keep a look out for her observations on this subject.

Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee coordination commission made its last inspection tour and while they were there the members of that committee fueled the flame by stating that Russia was not in violation of Olympic anti – discrimination principles.

The Chairman of the coordinating commission, Jean – Claude Killy, stated that “The spirit of the Games is awakening here” in reference to the location. Advocates in the West were furious because they had been lobbying the IOC to confront Russia over its policies which “encourage not only discrimination but also violence toward gay men & lesbians”, as they see it. Instead, the IOC declared the venues were ready and offered their congratulations to Russia.

In a recent speech to International scholars, Putin had very little patience for what he called political correctness, while he accused the West of rejecting the values underlying Western civilization. “They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious and even sexual”, he went on to say, “They are implementing policies that equate large families with same – sex partnerships, belief in God with the belief in Satan.”

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