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LGBT activists protest Russia’s anti-gay laws at final USOC Olympic event

Sunday, February 23, 2014
Queer Nation NY

Queer Nation NY
Queer Nation activist protest outside Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan on February 23.

NEW YORK — Nearly three dozen members of the gay rights activist group Queer Nation held a raucous protest on Sunday at the United States Olympic Committee’s final “Road to Sochi Tour” event at Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan.

The action began just as the event began in historic Vanderbilt Hall, inside the terminal, with protesters chanting “Don’t Buy Putin’s Lies” and unfurling two banners, one reading “Don’t Buy Putin’s Lies” and the other reading “Boycott Homophobia.”

Some members also carried signs that read “Gay Bashing Is Not An Olympic Sport.” The banners were hand-sewn by Gilbert Baker, the designer of the original rainbow flag.

Queer Nation NYQueer Nation activist protest outside Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan on February 23.

Queer Nation NY

The Road to Sochi tour, which was produced by the U.S. Olympic Committee, kicked off on October 29, 100 days before the Olympics, in Times Square, where Queer Nation also disrupted that event. The tour traveled the country and was dogged by Queer Nation protests at its stops in Los Angeles and Boston.

Before and during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Russia, which ended on February 23, the USOC has made no comment on Russia’s continuing human rights violations, including its attacks on LGBT Russians.

“The end of the Olympics is not the end of our confrontation with the Russian government,” said Alexis Danzig, a member of Queer Nation. “We will not be silent and we will not forget that the USOC was silent.”

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In June, the Russian government enacted legislation that effectively bans any pro-LGBT statement in public or private and on the internet. In July, a law banning adoptions of Russian children by people from any jurisdiction that allows same sex marriage took effect.

A second recently enacted law bars adoption of Russian children by anyone living in a jurisdiction that allows same sex marriage.

The Russian parliament recently proposed legislation that would allow the government to remove children from a household headed by a gay or lesbian parent. While that legislation has been withdrawn ahead of the Olympics, activists believe the parliament will reintroduce it now that the Olympic games are over.

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