there has been so much discussion on the gay rights issue in russia – will the corporate sponsors take a stand? will the olympic village truly be a place of tolerance? would the russians really arrest olympians who hold protests or rallies?
i think it’s a cover.
why was this brought to the forefront so close to the olympics? what prompted this sudden, “hey! they hate gays over there!” rush of protests and news coverage? because when you look at russia, it turns out they have a problem that extends beyond gay rights: let’s take a look at basic HUMAN rights.
there were mass protests in russia after the 2011 elections, when putin was elected back as president with a start to his term in 2012. (you might remember this little music group called pussy riot from that mess.) although the elections were supposed to be transparent and putin won by 60+%, the opposition to his presidency was pretty clear.
the previous president, mr. medvedez, had made a few advances as far as political freedoms, but once putin was back, he pretty much obliterated these and enacted new laws restricting non-governmental organizations and freedom of assemblies/expression. the basic rights we have as US citizens, like freedom to assemble and protest, are not found in russia.
a law was passed that blocks internet content that is deemed extreme or harmful to kids. “homosexual propaganda” is banned. in chechnya, a republic of russia, a virtue campaign for women is in full force for women to wear headscarves at all times, and they must wear them in public buildings. you could go on and on, i’m sure, but you’re not going to read anything that long. google it.
as for the olympics themselves, sochi certainly did its fair share of eminent domain to get the buildings up, but in many cases the compensation for land was unfair and the process not entirely transparent. there was one family of 6 that was evicted without any reimbursement. migrant workers reported excessive work hours, unpaid wages, and failure to provide contracts. and then journalists who decided to report on the issues faced censorship, and activists were detained when protesting. let’s not even get into the police force corruption.
so, you can protest these olympics for the gay rights issue, sure. but know that is just the very tip of the iceberg, and you should really be protesting for basic human rights.
which brings up the ultimate questions: why boycott an event whose organizational president made it pretty clear that discrimination of any kind during the games would not be tolerated, even if you didn’t see it on NBC? why boycott an event whose goal is to “contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised in accordance with Olympism and its values”? why boycott an event that most athletes only dream about competing in, because its location is less than ideal? i agree that the IOC could have made a better choice, but there are better ways to protest this event than by not watching our US athletes compete on a worldwide stage to promote a better world.