"Russians passed a law saying that openly LGBT visitors or their allies to this nation can be held up to fourteen days in prison"
Increasingly it is becoming clear that participants in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia will not be safe either from the government or its Para-military neo-Nazi skinhead supporters. Despite protestations from the International Olympic Committee, Russian governmental officials are creating an atmosphere of anti-gay frenzy that is creating a climate inviting violence and harassment against LGBT participants.
The recent passage of a number of laws oppressing the rights of Russian LGBT citizens is bad enough. The deadly, brutal and humiliating attacks by Russian skinheads nationalists who adore President Putin has been stomach turning to watch as they proudly release videos of their hate to warn others Russian citizens.
In addition, the Russians passed a law saying that openly LGBT visitors or their allies to this nation can be held up to fourteen days in prison if the government chooses. Clearly you can not suspend a law for two weeks and if you do it is an admission of their pogrom against our brothers and sisters in Russia.
The sponsor of that legislation, Vitaly Milonov, says the law will not be suspended for the games. That means if any gay person or their allies attempt to organize any dissent doing the games they could be arrested including athletes.
What can be done?
-The United States and other countries must roundly denounce these policies and actively engage in this situation. At this stage, there is no other choice.
-The sponsors of the games must visibly show their support of LGBT athletes or withdraw from the games. They must know they will be held accountable.
-NBC Sports does not receive a pass on this one. They are making millions off these games and must immediately become involved even if we have to fill up the plaza outside The Today Show with demonstrators to make the world aware of what is happening to our brothers and sisters in Russia.
-The United States Olympic Committee (with our government's support) should work with sponsors of the Sochi Games to create on their own the banned "LGBT House" where LGBT athletes and their supporters can gather safely and express themselves without fear of arrest.
-The athletes of the world must speak out in unison by signing a statement opposing the Russian policies and supporting openly LGBT athletes. The entire American Olympic team (and hopefully others) should wear rainbow flag pins to show support and wave rainbow flags at events.
-LGBT citizens around the world must be unrelenting in giving voice and visibility to the plight of our brothers and sisters in Russia. If we don't, who will?
What is not acceptable is for our government, the Olympic Committee, the sponsors and NBC Sports not to immediately get involved in this crisis. What is happening on a daily basis in Russia is appalling. Videos are being posted, such as the following, everyday showing the horror facing young Russian LGBT teens.
This must be stopped.