Canada Addresses Olympics Diversity


The Canadian Institute for Diversity and Inclusion (CIDI) addressed diversity issues in the Olympics with a tongue-in-cheek ad that showed perhaps the Olympics has always had a little bit of diversity in mind.

The ad, which definitely has some homoerotic undertones, hit the airwaves just as the Olympics opened.  The ad features two men going through the opening moves of the luge, where the two men thrust together as they prepare to shoot down the luge.  The ad ends with the line, “The games have always been a little bit gay.  Let’s fight to keep them that way.”

Michael Bach, CEO and founder of the Canadian Institute for Diversity and Inclusion, noted that it was because of the inequality introduced with the passing of Russia’s anti-propaganda law against homosexual literature that the institute decided to create the ad.  In addition, CIDI is encouraging those who view the ad to change their Facebook profile picture to the symbol of two lugers, which are aligned in such a way to look like an equals sign.

OlympicsThe ad agency Rethink came up with the campaign, which opens to the song Don’t You Want Me from Human League.  Many may think that the song may be a salute to the Olympian’s ongoing desire for acceptance and recognition, but the song has been considered by some to be an anthem for the gay population.  In fact, according to the blog Façade Treatment, the song ranks number 7 among the top anthems for the gay population.

Bach says that the ad was created as a response to the perceived ongoing discriminatory practices in Russia.  He notes that the ad was designed to illustrate support for all athletes competing in Sochi.  In fact, the ad has stated that win or lose, whether you are gay or straight, the fight for equality or human rights is an ongoing one that outweighs the pursuit of a gold medal.

Russia’s stance against homosexual literature – and, in fact, what they have termed non-traditional forms of sex – has garnered global criticism, and recent statements from Russian officials that gay athletes are welcome to compete in Sochi but they must leave Russian children alone have only fueled that criticism.  Links that the Russian government has made between homosexuality and pedophilia have also gained the country further negative attention.

CIDI’s suggestion that people change their profile picture to reflect the silhouette of the two lugers capitalizes on the symbol that came out during the US Supreme Court’s deliberation of California’s Proposition 8.  The human right group did, however, tweak the symbol slightly, changing the color of the lugers slightly to pink.

Current anti-homosexuality laws in Russia has also caused fear among LGBT groups that gay athletes and their families that any outward sign of support for homosexuality could result in arrests.

The games opened February 7, and with commentators such as openly gay US figure skater Johnny Weir offering their insights into the Games and the athletes, it’s certain that the controversy surrounding the anti-propaganda laws about homosexuality will only be further fueled by ads such as the one that aired from the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion.

By Christina St-Jean



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