New York — More than 100 members of the gay activist group Queer Nation and others who oppose the Russian government’s continued attacks on human rights, including the rights of LGBT Russians, marked the opening of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games with a raucous protest directly in front of the Russian consulate in New York City at noon today.
The protest included three people wearing Putin masks who dumped fake blood on the iconic five-ringed Olympic flag to underscore what Queer Nation alleges is the International Olympic Committee’s complicity with the Russian government.
“We’ve focused on the IOC and how holding the Olympics in Sochi goes against everything in its charter,” said Queer Nation member Ken Kidd, referring to past Queer Nation protests.
Among the protesters were gay Russians who have fled Russia and are seeking asylum in the U.S., members of RUSA LGBT, an organization of gay and lesbian Russian expatriates, students from Queens College, and members of Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village.
They chanted “Sochi is a scam, the whole is watching,” “Queer rights are human rights!” and “Gay bashing is not an Olympic sport!”; held “Putin heads” on sticks; and carried anti-Putin signs in both English and Russian.
Last 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.
Last year, the Russian parliament considered 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 While that legislation has been withdrawn ahead of the Olympics, activists believe the parliament will reintroduce it after the Games are over.
Queer Nation — a direct action group dedicated to ending discrimination, violence, and repression against the LGBT community — has also targeted corporate sponsors of the Olympics, most notably Coca-Cola and McDonalds,