In the last few weeks we’ve seen gay celebrities and activists come out in support of the LGBTI community in Russia, slamming their President Vladimir Putin on his anti-gay laws. Some have gone to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) demanding that they take the 2014 Winter Olympics away from Russia, and others to the leaders of their countries asking for action from them.
Now I commend these highly influential people for their efforts, as well as the handful of gay night clubs who have stopped selling Russian vodka and the thousands of people who have signed online petitions against this human rights issue, but we have not gone far enough. It’s just not big enough globally … yet.
Somehow a few Tweets, celebrities and posts on public blogs are just not doing the trick. We need to hit the IOC where it hurts. There are two parties that have not come into play as of yet and I hope with enough pressure they will – the Olympic athletes and the Games’ sponsors.
Each and every one of these athletes and companies needs to walk away in protest against the IOC supporting a country that has such laws on the books. These laws flout basic human rights and even go against what the President of Russia is quoted as saying on the sochi2014.com website when he talks about the Games “to unite people around the world with really significant values – a healthy lifestyle, tolerance and equality”.
These athletes need to stand for equality and not attend these Games. The sponsors need to pull their funding from these Games. We, as the public, come next year, need to not tune into these Games. We, as the public, need to pull our support from those companies who choose to sponsor and televise the Games and not support those athletes who go to these Games.
We need to show the IOC, we need to show Russia, we need to show the world that we have no tolerance of their intolerance to the LGBTI people worldwide. No more Tweets, no more open letters on blogs, no more clever images of the Olympic rings as a noose. If we are serious about this issue, we need to come together and stand against the IOC and their support of Russia, and above all we need to stand against Russia. These Games, after all, are some of the most expensive in history, with an estimated cost of $50 billion. With the Games removed, through global voice, that might just wake the Russian government up to its crimes against humanity.
After all the Olympic flag represents “…the six colours [including the flag’s white background] thus combined reproduce the colours of all the nations, with no exception. The blue and yellow of Sweden, the blue and white of Greece, the tri- colours of France, England and America, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Hungary, the yellow and red of Spain next to the novelties of Brazil or Australia, with old Japan and new China. Here is truly an international symbol.”