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Lawmakers press Kerry on Americans’ safety during Olympic games in Russia

Monday, August 5, 2013

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of 88 Congressional lawmakers, led by U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, is pressing Secretary of State John Kerry to ensure the saftey of American athletes and spectators at the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi, Russia.

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)

The action comes amid growing concern over recent anti-gay laws signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin that ban public discussion of LGBT subjects around “minor children,” which has also been widely interpreted to include public displays of affection between adults, and LGBT pride events.

In a letter to Kerry, the lawmakers say they want to know what diplomatic measures the State Department is planning to take to ensure Americans are not arrested, detained or otherwise penalized while in Russia amid that country’s cracckdown on gay rights and LGBT citizens.

“The United States must do everything we can to protect those Americans who are traveling to Russia for the Olympic and Paralympic Games this winter,” said Nadler, in a statement. “Russia’s anti-LGBT laws defy basic human rights that should be guaranteed to everyone at all times and in all places.”

While there have been conflicting messages, including one statement by the International Olympics Committee that said they had received assurances from Russian officials that the law would not be enforced among Olympic visitors, Russian lawmakers have since said that is not the case.

“An athlete of nontraditional sexual orientation isn’t banned from coming to Sochi,” Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said. “But if he goes out into the streets and starts to propagandize, then of course he will be held accountable.”

“These laws are completely contrary to the uniting spirit of the Olympics, which brings diverse nations together in a spirit of peaceful and friendly competition,” said Nadler.

Text of the letter and list of signatories is here.

Last week, U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, (D-Mass.) sent a letter to the Russian Ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, asking for similar assurances that American athletes and fans would be safe on Russian soil.

And U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said he plans to introduce a Senate resolution calling on the International Olympic Committee to oppose Russia’s anti-LGBT propaganda law, and also receive guarantees about the law’s enforcement during the games.

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16 more reader comments:

  1. CANCEL!

    Posted on Monday, August 5, 2013 at 11:13pm
  2. Boycott olympics

    Posted on Monday, August 5, 2013 at 11:16pm
  3. they need to just move them, fuck russia and its nazi government

    Posted on Monday, August 5, 2013 at 11:21pm

    Posted on Monday, August 5, 2013 at 11:24pm
  5. just cancel them and host it somewhere else all together!

    Posted on Monday, August 5, 2013 at 11:29pm
  6. Or do as the great hero, Jesse Owens did! Show up! Bravely taunt them as you collect your medals! Jesse Owens showed the Nazis and Hitler that an intelligent and clearly superior black athlete can dominate the hateful bigots! Let your rainbow flag fly in their faces! Demand the IOC keep gay athletes safe!

    Posted on Monday, August 5, 2013 at 11:33pm
  7. It´s russia what safty?

    Posted on Monday, August 5, 2013 at 11:42pm
  8. This needs to be addressed by the State Department!!

    Posted on Monday, August 5, 2013 at 11:43pm
  9. boycott

    Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 12:44am
  10. #boycottsochi
    From the Olympic Charter (
    “6. Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”

    The International Olympic Committee needs to address the issues of the Winter Olympics being hosted in Russia. (

    Use this contact information to address your concerns.

    © International Olympic Committee
    Château de Vidy – C.P. 356 – CH-1007 Lausanne/SwitzerlandTel. + 41 21 621 61 11 – Fax + 41 21 621 62 16

    Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 2:11am
  11. show up and speak up!

    Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 2:19am
  12. The fact that ´the world´ went to the Nazi-hosted Olympic games, and will also go to these, clearly demonstrate the lack of morality surrounding sports.

    Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 2:34am
  13. Boycott Proctor and gamble products! they are a sponsor!!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 5:20am
  14. and also, the russian government is breaking their own law by having those rainbow colored olympic rings!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 5:21am
  15. The safest thing any of us can do vis-a-vis the Winter Olympics in Russia is to just not go.

    Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 12:38pm
  16. NO they are not safe! Boycott the Olympics & Those that support them!!

    Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 3:03pm