As several world leaders prepare to boycott the event over Russian laws enacted last year banning “gay propaganda” and some athletes consider their safety, on February 9 Sydney will feature its own Pride House during Mardi Gras Fair Day – only two days after the Winter Olympics begin.
The first Pride House was initiated during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics while the London 2012 Olympics also featured one as a visible symbol of support to LGBTI athletes and fans.
Asia Pacific Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association President Barry Taylor told the Star Observer it was important the world showed the Russian government that many eyes would be watching proceedings in Sochi and that was why Sydney will have a Pride House for a day.
“We will be inviting fair-goers to come and to send messages of support to either LGBTI athletes participating at the Winter Olympics or LGBTI people in Russia,” he said.
“We urge the IOC to work closely with the Russian government to ensure that all LGBTI athletes are safe and that any LGBTI athletes who may make a comment or a public stance are not prosecuted.”
Other Pride House events will take place in the lead-up to and during the games in cities including, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal, Glasgow, Manchester, London, Copenhagen, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Wellington, Sao Paulo, and Brasilia.
Defending Australian gold-medallist snowboarder Torah Bright was the most high-profile Olympian who recently suggested she was still considering a boycott of the event.
US President Barack Obama has indicated he would not attend the games, but in his place will send a delegation that comprised of several high-profile LGBTI athletes like tennis great Billie Jean King.
The presidents of Germany and France as well as the EU Commissioner Viviane Reding have all said that they too would not attend the Winter Olympics in protest over the Russian anti-gay laws.
INFO: Pride House at Mardi Gras Fair Day is on February 9, Victoria Park, Camperdown. Details: email [email protected].