The Russian preparation for the 2014 Winter Olympics has inadvertently sparked heated controversy over LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered) issues that have seemingly plagued President Vladimir Putin. LGBT rights have been nearly nonexistent in Mother Russia, and had even been further conceded when a law criminalizing gay sex were recently put up for debate. LGBT activists became outraged when Putin’s speech at the Olympic Mountain turned personal.
Putin was quoted linking homosexuality and pedophilia. Putin stated “We have the ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia” as well as, “Just leave kids alone, please”. The Russian LGBT community responded by projecting light graffiti “Fair and Equal to Everyone” on Russian embassies across numerous countries. Traditionally, Russia and Putin have had an anti-gay stance, but as with the U.S., tolerance of these policies has been dwindling.
Interestingly enough, volunteer uniforms at the 2014 Winter Olympics have been designed in rainbow colors. Could that be the pointed work of the designer, or a simple oversight? No one knows. Putin insists that there will be no discrimination against gay attendees at the Olympics, but is that true? Considering Putin’s historical stance as well as his disparaging comments. It seems that Russia is potentially moving at a faster and more progressive pace then its Comrades in government.
There has been no discovery of link between homosexuality and pedophilia. There is no ‘pedophilic profile’ with ‘gays’ among the list. This is simply a stereotype that remains prolific among more traditional and less progressive nations and areas. Since the strengthening and expansion of LGBT visibility and community, human rights activists and partners have slipped in nations with even the most staunch stances against homosexuality. Recently, Uganda, a country known for its executions of individuals even accused of homosexual activity, had its first Gay Pride Parade. Some 250 people attended the parade and activities. The Russian LGBT community has not yet held a Gay Pride Parade. In a recent LGBT rally for the right to hold a gay parade, 67 people were detained when fights broke out between LGBT protesters and conservative activists. A nation does not seem very tolerant when it has less acceptance than a nation torn by war, that executes homosexuals.
If history and current events could lend Russia a piece of advice it would probably say “Time to get on board of the LGBT train, because it will either come naturally or sweep you up like a tornado”. LGBT rights and visibility are taking nations by storm. Even nations, like Uganda, that execute homosexuals. It started with slavery, women’s rights, then to segregation, and now to LGBT issues. Progression will never remain stagnant and it will be reaching a nation, a country, and home near you.
By Annie Root-McIntosh