Follow breaking news @lgbtqnation

U.S. Senators express concern over Russia’s anti-gay laws, Olympic safety

Friday, August 2, 2013

WASHINGTON — At least two U.S. Senators are speaking out over growing concerns of 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.

On Thursday, a spokesperson for Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) told Buzzfeed he plans to introduce a Senate resolution calling on the International Olympic Committee to oppose Russia’s anti-LGBT propaganda law and receive guarantees about the law’s enforcement during the games.

U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.)

And earlier this week, 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.

Markey’s formal request comes amid growing outrage over the law signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in June that bans 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.

“I am especially concerned with the provision of the law that allows for the possible detention of foreign citizens for up to 14 days before they would be expelled from the country,” said Markey, in the letter to Kislyak.

“Many members of international athletic delegations, their families, spectators, and support staff proudly identify as members of the LGBT community. I believe it is essential for them to both feel and be safe from arrest, detention, and other forms of discrimination while in Russia,” he wrote.

Merkley, meanwhile, said he plans a resolution asking the International Olympic Committee to oppose the law itself and to receive a guarantee that athletes and spectators will not be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity at the games.

In a Twitter post, Merkley called the Russian law “Outrageous.” “Olympic discrimination against LGBT athletes and spectators is 100% unacceptable,” he wrote.

A spokesperson from Merkley’s office told LGBTQ Nation on Friday that the resolution has not yet been drafted, but that the issue will be taken up once the Senate returns from recess in early September.

Russian officials have publicly stated that visitors won’t be exempt from the country’s laws.

Advertisement
On Thursday, Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko warned that gay athletes who speak out about homosexuality would be arrested and prosecuted, a position confirmed Friday to LGBTQ Nation by the chairman of the Russian Parliament’s Committee on Physical Culture, Sport and Youth Affairs, Igor Ananskikh.

According to Russian medai outlet RIA Novosti, Olympic corporate sponsors were largely silent on the issue Thursday when contacted:

The Coca-Cola Company said it “does not take positions on political matters” unrelated to its business; Visa and McDonald’s also refused comment. Other Olympic sponsors including Procter & Gamble, Samsung, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers and Panasonic did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

In the meantime, LGBT activists in the U.S. are calling for a boycott of all things Russian, the most prominent being a boycott of Russian vodkas, and centered around Stolichnaya (Stoli) brand vodka, which has Russian roots but is distilled in Latvia.

Activists are also calling for a boycott aimed at sponsors of the International Olympic Committee, asking Olympic sponsors to withdraw their support of the Winter Games.

Share this article with your friends and followers:

Archives: , , , , ,

Filed under: National Headlines

23 more reader comments:

  1. FINALLY some people are speaking up!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 11:04pm
  2. As well they should. Boycott!

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 11:11pm
  3. I bet most of the Republican Senators will be against it. They´d much rather have Gays persecuted and treated like second class citizens.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 11:12pm
  4. I think they should just pull the OLYMPIC games out of Russia all together. because doesn´t matter what the Russian people say there now whats done isd done and none of the Olympic player or the ones going to see the Olypic will be comfortable. or even safe for that matter.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 11:22pm
  5. Reminiscent of the games in Berlin of the 30s when a black American athlete did some ass whuppin´ on the Nazi Germany athletes. Let the gay athletes whup ass now,too.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 11:32pm
  6. We are considered second class citizens, Darrel, in most of the USA.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 11:33pm
  7. These athletes have worked their whole lives for this, do boycotting is not the answer, as far as feeling you will be because as long as you aren´t marching and kissing in the streets you won´t be arrested and let´s face it your not there for that your there to win medals and or cheer on your countries athletes, so there shouldn´t be a problem.

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 11:46pm
  8. Vancouvers mayor has offered to hold them back in Vancouver if pulled out of Russia…all the venues are already here from last winter

    Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 11:48pm
  9. the WORLD should boycott to protect their GAY athletes

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 12:00am
  10. stick Putin with a bill he never saw coming

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 12:00am
  11. It´s about time someone speak out. This will be an awful Olympics and no good will come from it

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 12:39am
  12. As a Democratic Oregonian, I love me some Jeff Merkeley. He stands up for everything Republicans won´t and fights for what´s right. I could go on and on and on.

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 1:07am
  13. IT´S ABOUT FUCKING TIME SOMEONE SPEAKS UP ABOUT – BOYCOTT THE OLYMPICS!!!!!

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 1:59am
  14. “Mr. Putin, Tear Down That Law!”

    If Russia continues to be anti-LGBT, pull the Olympics from Russia… No gay – No play! Boycott! Boycott! Boycott!

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 4:08am
  15. Boycott all the sponsors I will be

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 4:41am
  16. The shitty thing is that the olympics aren´t going to make them change the law, and the fact that Russia may grant amnesty to visitors is the hypocrisy and would be administered only to protect the profit of the games. I urge anyone reading this, whether or not Russia promises not to impose its laws on athletes and spectators, boycott the games and any sponsors of the games. Don´t support the global commercialism OR Russian hate laws. It´s time we took a fuckin stand and used our opinions to make a concrete statement and change.

    FOREIGN AMNESTY OR NOT, BOYCOTT THE GAMES!!

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 7:07am
  17. Unless Russia grants the same rights to its own citizens that it offers to grant on strangers, there is no justice there. The Olympic Games symbolize peace but the nations that host it often profit from poverty and war. Let´s push them to uphold their image. Reform Russia; reclaim the Games!

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 7:12am
  18. We should do what Putin´s Father should have done with his Mother and pull out !

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 11:56am
  19. good speak-up guys!

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 1:31pm
  20. yes *agree

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 2:20pm
  21. I believe they should not have it there. I am standing up for gay rights in KY it should be the same every where Russia could tell one thing and do another

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 5:27pm
  22. time is now to BOYCOTT RUSSIA and the 2014 WINTER OLYMPICS!!!!

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 9:49pm
  23. “Russian officials have publicly stated that visitors won’t be exempt from the country’s laws.” Yea…..

    Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 10:35pm