January 04, 2014
December 29, 2013
A security cam across the street caught the explosion from a terrorist attack in a Russian train station as it happened. You can see the light from the explosion within the building and then the smoke pouring out. At last count, the death toll was approaching two dozen.
The attack took place in the city of Volgograd.
December 18, 2013
President Obama yesterday sent a powerful message to President Putin and the Russian people about their violence and brutality directed toward LGBT Russian citizens. Obama in selecting the 'official delegation' to the Russian Olympics clearly made his feelings known about this issue.
Not only did the President make clear that neither the President or Vice President would not be attending Putin's party but he appointed two openly LGBT athletes to be part of the delegation. Billie Jean King and Brian Boitano will represent the United States and be very visible in Sochi. Can't wait to see what kind of actions the two of them will take in Sochi since they are protected by the United States government.
President Obama now joins a long list of heads of state who are refusing to attend the Olympics in protest of the Russian treatment its LGBT citizens. We can only hope the trend continues and the Russians have only 'D-List' guests to its big party.
Now if we can only convince NBC News and Sports to begin covering this story. Surely Matt Lauer and the Today Show will have King and Boitano on in the next week. Right?
Posted at 05:56 AM in Foreign Policy, International LGBT Rights, International Olympic Committee, International Relations, LGBT, LGBT Athletes, LGBT History, LGBT Russians, LGBT Sports, President Barack Obama, President Putin, Russia, Russian Gays, Russian Olympics, Sochi Olympic Games | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
December 11, 2013
Protests at 1968 Olympics
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) plans on getting tough on athletes who in any way protest at the Sochi Olympics the human rights violations in Russia. That includes protests related to Russia's persecution of its LGBT citizens.
The Associated Press is reporting:
The IOC is finalizing a letter to Olympic athletes reminding them to refrain from demonstrations or political gestures during the Winter Games in Sochi, including any protests against Russia’s law banning gay “propaganda.”
The International Olympic Committee executive board is expected to approve the
The memo will focus on Rule 50 in the Olympic Charter, which states: “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
“We will give the background of the Rule 50, explaining the interpretation of the Rule 50 to make the athletes aware and to assure them that the athletes will be protected,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in an interview with The Associated Press.
“I know from my own experience, this is key,” added Bach, a former Olympic fencer who won a team gold medal for West Germany in 1976. “As an athlete you do not want to be confronted in the Olympic Village or the Olympic Stadium with any kind of political controversies.”
The IOC letter comes amid continuing Western criticism of Russia’s human rights record and the recently enacted law which bans promotion of “nontraditional sexual relations” to minors. The issue has raised questions over what would happen to athletes who wear a pin or patch or carry a rainbow flag to show their support for gay rights.
The charter says the IOC can take action against — even expel — athletes who violate Rule 50, but the committee has said the rule would be “interpreted and applied sensibly and proportionately.”
“This is about the principles,” Bach said. “The principle is to protect the Olympic athletes to be drawn into political controversies. Then, you always have to decide on a case-by-case basis.”
"If IOC President Thomas Bach truly cares about principles, he should speak out against the discriminatory Russian laws that clearly violate Principle 6 of the IOC's Charter," said Andre Banks, Executive Director of All Out. "These laws not only stigmatize the gay community, they have also ignited a wave of anti-gay violence around the country. It's time to change the Olympic bidding process to ensure that the honor of hosting the Games only goes to countries that respect basic human rights."
"The 34 Olympians who have joined our campaign feel it is their duty to uphold the Olympic Charter and act in the face of any form of discrimination. Equality is not about politics, it's about principles," said Hudson Taylor, Executive Director of Athlete Ally. "The Principle 6 Campaign uses the language of the IOC's founding document to give athletes, fans and global supporters a way to celebrate the Olympic values of non-discrimination and show solidarity with LGBT Russians. How could the IOC object to that?"
Posted at 05:26 AM in Civil Rights, Human Rights, International Olympic Committee, International Relations, LGBT Appointments, LGBT Russians, LGBT Sports, Olympics, President Putin, Principles and Values, Russia, Russian Gays, Russian Olympics, Sochi Olympic Games | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 03, 2013
" Sport Does Not Discriminate On Grounds Of Race, Religion, Politics, Gender Or Otherwise"
-Principle Six of the International Olympic Charter
AllOut.org and Athlete Ally has created a brilliant campaign to take to Sochi in February. The genius of it all is that the LGBT community is not putting any Athletes at risk while slowly and steadily feeding the International Olympic Committee their own words.
There is no question that by the time of the Olympics the Principle Six Campaign will stand not only for human rights but clearly for the freedom from the tyranny directed against the Russian LGBT community. The more athletes, media personalities, entertainers and others who wear Principle Six somewhere on their person the more powerful the message.
The two organizations announced this week that some Olympians have endorsed this effort. However it should not be limited to just Olympians but all athletes and supporters of human rights. American athletes should put a brilliant red '6' on their uniforms to show solidarity. That includes high school and college athletes.
Now is the time in your communities, school, universities and institutions to ask people to wear the bright red six to show resistance to the Putin's Punks.
American Apparel has partnered with the groups and will help finance the bold statement to take to Sochi. You will be able to get your "6" merchandise after January 1. Hope they have a small classy pin to put on your suit or formal wear.
This should be a campaign that everyone should be able to rally behind including NBC Sports, sponsors, athletes and activists
Posted at 06:00 AM in Civil Rights, Human Rights, International LGBT Rights, LGBT, LGBT Athletes, LGBT Discrimination, LGBT Organizatons, LGBT Russians, LGBT Sports, Olympics, President Putin, Principles and Values, Russia, Russian Gays, Russian Olympics, Sochi Olympic Games, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
October 24, 2013
The Advocate has obtained an in-depth interview with MSNBC's morning anchor Thomas Roberts on NBC's decision to send him to Moscow to host the Ms. Universe Pageant. The decision has generated some debate among activists who are appalled by the treatment of LGBT Russian citizens by their government and Putin's Punks.
However, there has not been a solidified approach by the community. Most everyone is now aboard that there will not be a boycott of the Olympics. That our athletes should attend and find a way to express their support. People like Elton John have agreed to sing in Russia and make a statement while he is there. Others have decided to boycott the nation. Right now it has been an individual decision on how best to change minds in this highly intense debate.
Rather you agree with Roberts decision or not, this is a man who has been there for the LGBT community time and time again. He has agreed to show up and lean his support to almost every organization that asked for his help. On his show on MSNBC he has time and time again been open about his own sexuality and showcased the community's issues. This is a fact no one can dispute.
Roberts is a journalist who works for NBC. Here are excerpts from the interview about his accepting this assignment by his employer:
The Advocate: In your op-ed with MSNBC, you said that you aggressively pursued the opportunity to host this pageant when it became available. What was the thinking behind that for you? Why did you want to host this event?
Thomas Roberts: My thinking was that it's such a large, visible opportunity. It's saying, in over 190 countries, to a billion people, that we have a place at the table, we have a seat, and why give that up? While the homophobic laws are a major concern, there are unfortunately LGBT discriminatory laws that exist in other countries beyond Russia, and I thought this was a huge visible opportunity not only for... our own country, for Russia as well, but for the 188 countries where this is going to be seen. So I thought this was a fantastic opportunity for people to learn about me being openly gay, and marriage, and my husband being with me, and send a strong message.
The Advocate: How would you respond to folks who say it's tough to see what life is like on the Russian playing field for LGBT people, when you are on a different level, and attending there with a different level of security than the average queer person in Russia enjoys?
Thomas Roberts: Well, in advance of making this decision to accept this assignment, a lot of critical thinking went into it. And that was me coordinating to reach out to LGBT Russian activists, and to do my homework, and to get a dialogue going with them. So I didn't make this decision without doing my homework, and I continue to have great drive about the purpose of why I'm going there, and why somebody like me can do a lot more than just host, cohost, Miss Universe. So, I'm aligned with a cable network, a television network, and if people don't think that I'm going to do reporting from there, they're crazy.
The Adovocate: You mentioned that you reached out, and did your homework before accepting this assignment. What was the response of Russian LGBT activists that you reached out to?
Thomas Roberts: I was told: don't boycott. I was told that this is too big of an opportunity, and that voices like theirs need representation. So, what they want is, while they don't feel safe, they want influential people to come in, and speak out. Not only can I speak out ahead of time, before going, but I also have a great capacity to cover and storytell. So, that's why this assignment was so attractive to me.
The Advocate: I definitely agree — that's the goal. Well, that wraps up my questions. Do you have anything that you’d like to say that we didn’t touch on?
Thomas Roberts: I just hope people would have faith in me. You know I feel real strongly that I’ve always tried to be, not a perfect example, but a good example, of someone who can have a wonderful professional and personal life, and trying to do the right thing by his community. I’ve never denied this community. I’ve been a part of it for a long time now, and I hope to remain a good member in standing for a long time to come. So, I just hope people would have faith in me.
October 16, 2013
A senior Dutch diplomat was attacked inside his home, tied up and beaten in Moscow. The attackers wrote LGBT in lipstick to leave their calling card.
The Dutch King is considering canceling a trip to Russia later this year.
Of course, this happens as Russia says everyone will be safe at the Winter Olympic games. If they can't protect diplomats in Moscow, who can they protect?
A Dutch diplomat was beaten by unknown assailants in Moscow on Tuesday, a week after President Vladimir Putin demanded an apology for a Russian diplomat's alleged beating in the Netherlands, Russian news agencies reported.
Dutch media said the Dutch government had summoned the Russian ambassador to the Netherlands in response to the incident.
The Moscow attack resembled Russia's version of the incident in which it said a minister-counsellor at its embassy in The Hague was badly beaten in his home in front of his children by armed assailants. The Russian embassy said he was beaten with a police baton.
A Russian police source told Interfax the Dutch diplomat in Moscow had reported that assailants broke into his apartment, beating him and leaving "a heart with the letters LGBT" on the diplomat's wall. LGBT is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.
Dutch media said the Dutch diplomat suffered minor injuries. Interfax's police source said he did not ask for medical treatment.
The summoning of the Russian ambassador by Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, reported by national Dutch news agency ANP, was the latest in a string of diplomatic confrontations between the Netherlands and Russia.
Putin was met in Amsterdam earlier this year with a gay pride parade where activists waved pink and orange balloons to protest against Russia's ban on gay "propaganda" directed at minors, which has sparked international criticism
October 10, 2013
Everyone has had an idea how to approach the Russian Winter Olympic Games from boycott, to moving them or making the USA uniforms the colors of the rainbow flag. It is exactly that energy that has enabled AllOut.org and Athlete Ally to come up with an effective and wise approach to taking on the Russians record on LGBT rights.
Now the LGBT rights organizations Athlete Ally and All Out are promoting an alternative that may well steer clear of the flaws and dangers of other ideas. It involves appropriating the I.O.C.’s own words and stated values and turning them into a coded affirmation of LGBT equality, an epigrammatic protest of Russia’s laws that doesn’t include the word “gay” or any of the conventional symbols of the gay rights movement. Russians wouldn’t easily be able to classify it as so-called gay propaganda, which the country deems illegal. And I.O.C. officials could hardly take offense and muster any opposition.
The Olympic charter includes something called Principle 6, which decries discrimination of any kind and makes clear that the games are committed to equality and human rights. So Athlete Ally, working with a company called the Idea Brand and the professional football player Brendon Ayanbadejo, came up with and developed the notion of using the very name of that clause, along with a logo or logos that allude to it, as a rebuke of Russia’s laws and a method for athletes and fans to express their convictions. The symbol and the syllables P6, perhaps worn as a sticker, perhaps woven into clothing, could evolve into something along the lines of a Livestrong bracelet: a ubiquitous motif that doesn’t spell out a whole philosophy but has an unmistakable meaning and message.
“From the moment that the Russian laws became a big story, folks have been trying to think of ways to use the Olympics to shine a light on them and decry them,” noted Brian Ellner, a member of Athlete Ally’s board of directors.
Some advocates of LGBT equality called for a boycott of the Winter Games, but many others, myself included, thought that a boycott went too far and would turn the constructive, important attention being paid to Russia’s unacceptable laws into a less constructive lament and debate about what the American athletes who’d trained for this moment had lost and what the sports fans who relish the Olympics had been denied.
Some advocates urged that the Winter Games be moved, which was highly unlikely to happen and indeed isn’t happening.
But those dead ends didn’t mean the death of an intense and widespread desire to turn these Olympics into a teachable moment.
“I don’t want to see a boycott,” said Nick Symmonds, an American middle-distance runner who was on our country’s Olympic teams in 2008 and 2012, participating in the Summer Games in Beijing and then London. “But I do expect to see the I.O.C. uphold the charter. If you read what it says there, it says that any form of discrimination will not be tolerated. And clearly they’re allowing a form of discrimination to be tolerated.”
“The Olympics have to be about equality,” Symmonds added. “And Russia is very clearly not about equality.”
He recently returned from Russia, where he competed in the 2013 world championships, winning a silver in the 800 meters, and where he made it a point, on Russian soil, to denounce Russia’s laws, telling a Russian news agency: “I believe that all humans deserve equality no matter how God made them.” He told me that he doubted he’d be arrested or have his medal taken away—neither of which happened—and was willing in any case to take the chance.
In addition to his comments in Russia, Symmonds is among a growing number of former and imminent Olympians who have put their names on a petition, as part of the P6 movement, to implore the I.O.C. to state more clearly than it has thus far that its anti-discrimination philosophy embraces gay people and rights; that Russia’s laws aren’t consistent with the I.O.C. charter and the Olympic spirit; and that Russia, as the host country, needs to be cognizant of that.
The list of prominent athletes who have joined Symmonds in speaking up for equality and drawing attention to Principle 6 includes the tennis star Andy Roddick and the National Basketball Association player Steve Nash, both veterans of the Olympics.
Andre Banks, the executive director of All Out, said that it’s clear to him, from his outreach and conversations over recent months, that “a lot of people are looking for a way to speak out.”
“I’ve heard from many people in many different sports,” Banks told me. He added that when it comes to athletes who are bound for Sochi, “They feel it’s irresponsible to be asked to choose between the sport that they love and the principles that they believe in.”
That’s where the Principle 6 movement comes in. It’s an attempt to take full advantage of the world’s attention to the Winter Games without putting athletes at risk of censure. Maybe they hold up six fingers. Maybe their outfits include something with a P6 logo, several designs for which are being considered.
“I think you’re likely to see merchandise, hats, gloves, shirts,” said Banks.
All Out, Athlete Ally and their supporters realize that none of this will work if they don’t quickly educate the public, through social media and other avenues, about what P6 stands for. They’re now embarking on that mission, which is helped hugely by the involvement of athletes like Symmonds, Roddick, Nash and the diver Greg Louganis, an openly gay former Olympian who has been vocal about the Russian laws.
They want to make P6 the rainbow flag that’s not a rainbow flag, the shout-out for equality that sidesteps the syllable gay, which is so ridiculously risky in the context of these particular Winter Games.
For an athlete to wear a P6 symbol would be “like a Supreme Court justice tattooing the First Amendment on his or her arm,” Ellner said. “Is that political? No. It’s the Constitution.”
October 02, 2013
“There are politics in sport and athletics. They always are intertwined, even though people try to keep them separate. Asking an athlete to go somewhere and compete and be a representative of that philosophy and all the different crap that kind of goes along with it and then telling them they can’t tell them they express their views or they can’t say what they believe is pretty hypocritical and unfair."
Bode Miller (Olympian Skier)
Every since the brutal crackdown and reign of terror against Russian LGBT citizens began, the Sochi Olympics have become a focal point to express outrages against this pogrom. Calls have heard for everything such as boycotting the Olympics, to moving them to another city or begging the Olympic Committee to show leadership in the face of such human rights violations.
The fact of the matter is that none of that is going to happen.
The Olympics are not going to be moved to another city. Nations, including the United States, are not going to boycott the games. The Olympic Committee has totally copped out and found no problems with the Russian reign of terror against their own citizens.
So now what?
The time has come for the international LGBT community to get focused with a program of protest that is realistic. Silence is not one of those options.
The organizing must start here in America first and hopefully the energy will spread to other athletes around the world.
A fair number of athletes (such as Olympian Skier Bode Miller above) have individually spoken out.
GLAAD and Athlete Ally should form a coalition around Sochi and coordinate their resources and good work.
Here are some suggestions for focused action that makes realistic sense. Without question there are other options but we have to make a decision and get moving quickly before we lose the opportunity to protest.
1. Write one single "Statement of Conscience' that will express outrage and dismay with the policies of the Russian government, the inaction by the Olympic Committee and solidarity with the Russian LGBT community.
2. Have as many prominent athletes in America as possible sign the statement stars from all kinds of sports. The Olympic Athletes who sign should be the Honorary Committee.
3. Make visible in the media, social media and via appearances their expressions.
4. Have a separate drive to gain famous entertainers to sign the same 'statement'.
5. Place entertainers and athletes on major shows.
6. Focus on NBC Sports and especially the morning "Today Show" with their outdoor activities and windows.
7. Work with the Olympic Athletes to find a form of public support at the Olympics. It maybe be something simple such as everyone wearing an LGBT Russian Olympic pin or an armband. If enough of them agree to do it, it will be impossible for the Olympic Committed to stop it.
8. For those who believe in non-violent action, sit in's at NBC Sports and also at the US Olympic offices.
9. Banners and placards at NBC Sporting Events
10. Send key visible personalities to Sochi to gain massive coverage of the issue.
September 11, 2013
Getting Republicans and Democrats to agree on almost anything these days is next to impossible. However California State Senator Mark Leno managed to bring both parties together to sharply condemn the Russian campaign against its LGBT citizens.
Senate Resolution 18 is tough and has a bite to it. Leno's office describes the resolution which passed the State Senate with am astounding bipartisan vote of 29 to 1!
SR 18 was introduced in response to Russia’s new laws that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. In addition to asking the state’s two largest pension funds to stop making direct future investments in Russia, the resolution calls on the International Olympic Committee to withdraw its position that expressing support for LGBT people and their rights is a violation of its rules and to seek a written guarantee from the Russian government that athletes and other visitors to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi will not be prosecuted under the anti-gay laws. SR 18 also urges other organizations holding large internationally televised events in Russia, including the Miss Universe Organization and its owner Donald Trump, to move their events to countries without such virulently anti-gay laws.