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Olympic gold medalist Matthew Mitcham: Russia’s anti-gay laws are ‘horrific’

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Openly gay Olympic gold medalist Matthew Mitcham says Russia’s new anti-gay laws, which would result in athletes at next year’s Sochi Winter Olympics jailed if they are involved in any type of gay pride activities, are “horrific.”

“It’s really sad,” Mitcham told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph. “The way they are persecuting people in Russia is quite horrific.”

Matthew Mitcham

Mitcham’s remarks come amid growing international concern over Russia’s anti-gay laws, and how enforcement of those laws would affect athletes and spectators attending the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

Mitcham said Russia’s anti-gay laws would hinder performances and take away the joy of the Games experience.

“The Olympics is the best experience you will ever have as an athlete,” he said. “Their whole memory and experience is going to be marred by this stuff. They are going to be made to feel unacceptable, inappropriate, and it is a really awful, awful feeling. .

Russia’s contentious law was signed by President Vladimir Putin in late June, imposing fines on individuals accused of spreading “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” to minors, and even proposing penalties for those who express these views online or in the news media.

Gay pride rallies also are banned, as are public displays of affection between two people of the same gender, including holding hands.

On Thursday, Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko said Russia will enforce the law when it hosts international athletes and fans during the Winter Games, contradicting an earlier report by the International Olympic Committee that it had received assurances that athletes and spectators attending the the games would be exempt from an anti-gay statue.

Mitcham, a gold medal-winning diver from the 2008 Beijing Games, said the laws were in violation of basic human rights.

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36 more reader comments:

  1. Glad some Olympians are speaking out about re: Russia´s anti-gay laws. It demonstrates courage. The Russian Orthodox Church has proven to be too influential in ruling Russia.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 3:33am
  2. Keep strong Olympians. This kind of ignorance has NO PLACE in a “world games” format…

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 3:37am
  3. Russia enacting the law on the day of the Olympics is a middle finger to the international world.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 3:37am
  4. Yes and if we are going, I advocate the US of gAy uniforms much like the proud one you have on. No not pins for gay athletes so they can be arrested and thrown in the gulag but I want the US reps all dressed in red white and gay rainbows and a unicorn as our official animal. I want Rachel Maddow as official sports commentator accompanied by Cooper Anderson. I want Rosie O´Donnell conducting interview and Melissa Etheridge competing in speed skating. I want kd lang in the giant slalom. And ellen and porshea in couples dancing. Enough is enough, Russia.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 3:40am
  5. Did I mention my requests for the gold winners? It´s Raining Men and We are Family come to mind as utterly gay anthems

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 3:41am
  6. nuke the fuckers and be done with it

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 3:43am
  7. PUTIN IS A SCUMBAG

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 3:57am
  8. Chase, okay no. We´re not going to have a repeat of every dumbass redneck post-9/11 voice just because shit nations are being assholes. Let´s be better than that, shall we?

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 4:09am
  9. From the Olympic Charter (http://www.olympic.org/documents/olympic_charter_en.pdf)
    “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. (http://www.olympic.org/sochi-2014-winter-olympics)

    https://secure.registration.olympic.org/en/faq/ask-question

    Use this contact information to address your concerns.
    © International Olympic Committee
    Château de Vidy – C.P. 356 – CH-1007 Lausanne/Switzerland
    Tel. + 41 21 621 61 11 – Fax Uphill Rush 4 Game1 21 621 62 16
    http://www.olympic.org
    https://www.facebook.com/olympics
    https://twitter.com/olympics
    http://www.youtube.com/olympic

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 4:53am
  10. So why are we going?

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:13am
  11. Sadly, I support a ban the Olympics.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 6:17am
  12. Let´s see if today´s administration is made up of money hungry cowards.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980_Summer_Olympics_boycott

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 6:46am
  13. Boycott

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 6:49am
  14. Sickeningly anti-human rights

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 7:48am
  15. Let the Russians play with themselves. ;)

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 9:48am
  16. https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/boycott-russian-winter-olympics-due-growing-human-rights-violations-their-own-citizens/6mMzPng1 We need 100,000 signatures by Sept.3 in order for the White House to consider this petition.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 1:10pm
  17. Thank you, Matthew, for stepping forward. Move the effing games!!! Vancouver, help us out.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 1:11pm
  18. I disagree with those thinking we should go to Russia regardless. I disagree because just one athlete or visitor being arrested, injured, or worse is one too many. Let them have their winter olympics…alone and without our money. Let Putin sit and sulk in his palace. Putin does not care what the world community thinks, nor does Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Cameroon, Jamaica etc.. We cannot change their leaders,laws and populations by waving pride flags and holding hands. My opinion of course.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 2:08pm
  19. Matthew was the first person I thought of when hearing that Russia had the next games. A boycott is not fair to the athletes who have worked so hard for the honor of representing themselves in their country in the Olympics. The answer is business as usual and overwhelm the Russian system. ALL spectators wearing rainbow colored clothing as much as possible. straight Couples swapping hand holding with other straight couples. Go ahead and kiss your sister woman. Fight this nonsense openly. Or just move the Olympics to a more humane country willing to step up.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 2:27pm
  20. Just BOYCOTT THE GAMES!

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 2:28pm
  21. Let NBC know that we won´t be watching these games and that we want more coverage about these laws and their impact not just on LGBT athletes, but on the LGBT citizens of Russia.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 4:43pm
  22. They absolutely should not be allowed to host the Olympics with views and laws like this. And no country should treat their citizens like this. These laws are disgusting.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 7:34pm
  23. More reasons to boycott

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 7:41pm
  24. We all just keep saying “how awful”….let´s actually do something about it.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 7:41pm
  25. just wearing the rainbow scarf will get you arrested, beat up, or both.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 8:14pm
  26. He said it would do more harm than good to boycott for the LGBT community in Russia.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 8:21pm
  27. Exactly pull the entire U.S. team out of competing slap every type of sanction you can on Russia and embargo. Our government says they insist on human rights but if they don´t slap Russia down hard for this nonsense it will just signal our foreign policy is based on smoke and mirrors.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 8:21pm
  28. They are horrific, but sadly the world is full of bigotry, prejudice, and hatred but us LGBTers do not have to stand for it! I condemn those who project such negatives and do not allow such toxic individuals in my life whatsoever and speak out loud and clear against the degredation of LGBTers worldwide!\

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 8:28pm
  29. Athletes are often speaking from their viewpoint obviously. They´ve worked very hard for years, and are often looking for endorsements and $$ afterwards based on their performances. Sometimes, they aren´t looking at the safety issues…not only for themselves, but for the people who travel with them. These are violent times in Russia…and this violence is encouraged by their own government.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 8:31pm
  30. The one boycott that could work is if Olympic athletes from all over the world boycott the Russian Olympic games.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 9:02pm
  31. Yeah, the athletes need to demand a new venue!

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 9:38pm
  32. I certainly agree, but buying Stoli and dumping it is silly. Russia gets the money anyway, buy beer!

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 9:54pm
  33. Places that are ruled by BIGOTS, should not be able to be a part of thye Olympic games.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 9:56pm
  34. Take the Olympic´s out of there we don´t support hate and bigotry!!

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 11:23pm
  35. What if every athlete and their support system from every participating country wears some version of a rainbow uniform in solidarity? 2500+ athletes, their friends and families. Who´s to say who´s gay if everybody´s sporting rainbows? Would Russia really arrest every participating athlete and render their games pointless with only Russians allowed to participate (assuming Russian athletes didn´t also don rainbows)? Could they endure that level of international #fail and incarcerate that many people?

    Posted on Monday, August 5, 2013 at 8:00am
  36. Like I say during every horror movie I watch, “Don´t go into that room!, Don´t go down into that cellar!, Don´t go into that old haunted house!” But, they never listen, makes for a better movie and will definitely make better media fodder when anyone from here, goes over there and gets in a homophobic jamb.

    Posted on Monday, August 5, 2013 at 2:56pm