Russian LGBT Group Urges ‘Do Not Boycott The Olympics – Boycott Homophobia!’

RussiaIn a press release posted to Facebook today, The Russian LGBT Network responded to recent calls for the boycott of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games in support of LGBT Russians and disapproval of the nation's recently enacted anti-gay laws that make it a crime in Russia to spread "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors."

Echoing the calls of others including Patrick Burke, co-founder of the You Can Play Campaign, The Russian LGBT Network urges athletes and nations not to walk out on Sochi but rather to use the games as an opportunity to highlight the oppressive acts of the Putin regime and issue a clarion call for international action in support of LGBT rights:

"We believe that calls for the spectators to boycott Sochi, for the Olympians to retreat from competition, and for governments, companies, and national Olympic committees to withdraw from the event risk to transform the powerful potential of the Games in a less powerful gesture that would prevent the rest of the world from joining LGBT people, their families and allies in Russia in solidarity and taking a firm stance against the disgraceful human rights record in this country.

In retrospect, the record of the Olympic boycotts is not utterly promising in regards the potential to bring a change; look at the 1980 boycott of the Moscow Olympics, the 1984 "retaliation" boycott of the LA Games, or at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. What is remembered from 1968 is neither the number nor the names of those who boycotted the Games, but the "human rights salute" by Tommie Smith and John Carlos who rose black-gloved fists and bowed their heads on the victory stand as a sign of resistance to racial injustice and solidarity with everyone who fought for equality and human rights."

SochiLike many others, The Russian LGBT Network is keen to point out the influence that national organizations as well as broadcasters have in effecting change in Russia by not remaining silent on the grave human rights abuses that have become widespread in Russia:

"Participation and attendance of the Games in Sochi will not indicate
endorsement of injustice and discrimination; they will only if they are
silent. We hope to join forces and succeed in raising everyone's voices
for LGBT equality in Russia and elsewhere.

We hope for the support of national organizations in making sure that the athletes publicly take a stance against violence toward LGBT people and stand strong for LGBT equality; that the national houses fill the gap of the banned Pride House and support LGBT athletes, staff, spectators and their allies on their grounds; that sponsors follow through with their policies and visualize their commitment to justice and observance of human rights in regards LGBT people at the Games; and that the broadcasters display all this in a positive and supportive way.

Do not boycott the Olympics – boycott homophobia! Stand in solidarity with people in Russia and bring LGBT pride and values of human rights and freedoms to the Games in Sochi!"


  1. Jaysonn says

    I think it would do more, if everyone at the olympics just wore a rainbow ribbon or something to show support.

  2. Bob says

    1– there are not enough Gay people in most of the winter sports to make a big showing of absence, so straight sympathizers would have to join in.
    2– Putin is catering to the Orthodox church with this crap, but NO WAY would he allow anything negative to happen at the Games.

    — what I don’t understand is why Gay folks are not picketing every catholic church in the USA

  3. Dback says

    I’m not “up” on current immigration laws and whatnot since Russia became a post-Iron Curtain country once the USSR broke up. I agree with what Bob said, but even more so, maybe in the Olympic village there should be a resource desk to help gay Russian athletes who are secretly closeted and desperately want to get out of Russia? Kind of like an international underground railroad that could help athletes find gay-friendly coaches and countries around the world that would welcome them? If Putin is so adamantly anti-gay, let’s help his country lose its best and brightest gay athletes, and have other countries score those medals.

  4. Strepsi says

    @DBACK: vancouver Olympics invented “Pride House” in the athlete’s village for that very purpose: Sochi has indicated there will not be one.

    But we should welcome refugees for asylum.

    This letter brought tears to my eyes — they want us there because they need witnesses. I hope our Canadian contingent all wears rainbow scarves.

  5. tom says

    What a load of crap. Yes, rainbow scarves and buttons will make a huge difference. Pathetic.

  6. MIke says

    Could you imagine life for Russian gays if the venue of the Winter Games were changed tomorrow? I completely understand them wanting the games to continue with as much visibility of Russian homophobia as possible.

  7. jackJake says

    yeah show up and be visible.. Cause that worked really well for during 1936 olympics in Berlin.. The ONLY action that will have any effect is a boycott.. Those calling for restraint either have limited memory of olympic history or they are an athlete that is more worried about their personal medals than the well being of an entire people..

  8. AngelaChanning says

    Okay, some Russian activists are advocating a boycott (see link below) and some aren’t. Of course, the IOC is too timid to force the issue and it appears they have settled for appeasement under the guise of being progressive. What is going to bring about change in Russia? A boycott or key athletes or journalists going over there and doing something to expose the brutality? Or both? Maybe its time to rattle the cages of U.S. sponsors in addition to Stoli Vodka.

  9. RBearSAT says

    JackJake yea, you seem to have a limited memory of the Olympics. Let’s bring in some recent history. Boycotts in ’80 and ’84 REALLY made a difference, NOT. But don’t let that stop you from storming a barricade.

    BTW, were you really planning to compete in or attend the Winter Games?

    The reality is a boycott will have no effect on Russia’s policies and will really only damage those who might have worked all their lives to compete for that once in a lifetime chance. The IOC will not be pulling the Games from Sochi at this point. If you wanted to have an affect, you should have been lobbying them several years ago before they selected Sochi.

    This is one more example of our knee-jerk LGBT community who doesn’t really get engaged until the last minute. If you want to have an effect on policies, get involved early, not at the last minute. Remember, elections have consequences but most in our community fail to engage in politics until someone like Dan Savage decides to get some “air time” and storm a barricade, usually with very little effect.

  10. says

    I am really getting tired of this argument:

    “No, no, no, no what you SHOULD do is____”

    Hey jerks, we are doing all of it, go write something for the people who arent.

  11. says

    They made the basically the same kinds of arguments against boycotting South Africa during the apartheid years. It’s time to stiffen our spines RE Vladimir Putin. There is no free press in Russia; no free expression (remember what happened to Pussy Riot?). Activists can’t access the media like they (sometimes) can in the West. An international boycott, as high-profile as possible, is the way to go.

  12. RBearSAT says

    Stuffed Animal (whatever that means) Olympic boycotts DON’T work, mainly because the duration of the Summer Games is really only 3 weeks (including arrival and departure). Just look at ’80 and ’84. No effect from them. South Africa lasted multiple years and eventually wore the government down. But these and other arguments escape most people who just love to swing at the latest pinata some overstated sex-advice commentator offers.

  13. says

    Boycotting makes a difference on two fronts. (1) it brings discussion to the forefront. It doesn’t have to ACTUALLY work in order for it to be talked about. Already on gay websites across the internet there have been over four different posts about the subject in just the past week. Every reader will talk to someone else about it, etc. etc. It makes a point socially.

    (2) For publicly traded companies it causes their stock to go down. The stock market is (essentially) based on a group dynamic because of the internet and how quickly stocks can be bought or sold. If everyone gets a bad feeling about a company, stocks get dumped. In privately owned companies, it’s about reputation and perception. In long term effects they will always be linked (either by truth or by rumor) to something that is sometimes difficult to overcome (Proctor and Gamble is a good example of this).

    (3) Social evolution causes knee-jerk reactions and this is a good thing. It makes those in charge of catering/serving/servicing/whatever the masses more responsible. SOMETIMES (often) it gets out of hand, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. But the effort of a company (or representative in the above case) is now to the point where they have to take HUMAN concerns into consideration.

    And Russia passing an anti-gay law while allowing torturers to break that law in ‘entrapping’ gay teenagers is a HUMAN concern… on many levels.

    Boycott and subsequent awareness is justified. It may not reach its goal or extend as far as it needs to, but what movement in civilized history did that ever stop us from standing up and trying. It was only ONE MAN against four tanks at Tianamen Square that made a protest iconic.

    It doesn’t take much.

  14. RBearSAT says

    Yea, and it makes a bunch of gay boys feel special in the gay bars for ordering something other than a Cape Cod with Stoli. They feel they “helped” their brothers and sisters in Russia. Hooray! Besides, it gave Savage his latest little stint to go running around the talk shows with, making him the “savior” of LGBT society.

  15. RBearSAT says

    Yea, and it makes a bunch of gay boys feel special in the gay bars for ordering something other than a Cape Cod with Stoli. They feel they “helped” their brothers and sisters in Russia. Hooray! Besides, it gave Savage his latest little stint to go running around the talk shows with, making him the “savior” of LGBT society.