The International Olympic Committee has stated that LGBT athletes and visitors of the 2014 Winter Olympics will not be penalized under extreme anti-gay legislation passed in Russia last month.
The law, passed unanimously by the Duma and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin in June, bans “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” from being distributed to minors. However, the broad language of the bill could be interpreted to ban any public support of gay rights or public affection by same sex couples. There is also concern over the safety of athletes during the Olympics. Pro-LGBT demonstrations have turned violent in past years with many activists being physically assaulted and/or arrested the city where the games will be held. In addition, recently it was discovered that a neo-nazi group has allegedly been torturing gay teenagers after luring them into meeting over the internet.
According to USA Today, a statement sent from the IOC said “The IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games… As a sporting organization, what we can do is to continue to work to ensure that the Games can take place without discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators and the media.”
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, told reporters “Mere verbal assurances from the Russian government that foreigners will be exempt from their repressive laws are not enough. The IOC must obtain ironclad written assurance from President Putin.” Griffin also called on NBCUniversal, who has sole broadcasting rights, to highlight the homophobic laws in Russia as part of their coverage.
Media Resources: Buzzfeed 7/26/2013; Huffington Post 7/26/2013; Los Angeles Times 7/26/2013; USA Today 7/26/2013; Wisconsin Gazette 7/26/2013