Canadian Foreign Minister Voices Concern About Russia’s ‘Hateful’ Anti-Gay Law, Sochi Games

BairdCanadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird spoke out today, blasting Russia's vicious anti-gay law and the announcement from that nation's sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, that the Russian Federation would enforce its "homosexual propaganda" law during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. As reported earlier today, Mutko's remarks are directly opposed to
assurances given by "the highest levels"
of the Russian government to
members of the IOC that LGBT athletes and visitors would not be targeted
by Russian authorities during the Sochi Games. Baird told The Canadian Press:

"As concerned as we are about the Olympics, that's nothing. That's
two, three, four weeks for the athletes and participants and the
visitors…This mean-spirited and hateful law will affect all Russians 365 days
of the year, every year. It is an incitement to intolerance, which
breeds hate. And intolerance and hate breed violence."

[…]

"We wanted more than a verbal commitment to the IOC. And now the
comments by the Russian sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, are of deep
concern. The Olympics is a great celebration of international sport, of
international co-operation. This type of law being enforced flies in the
face of the entire Olympic spirit."

Baird insists that he and others in the Canadian government have attempted to lobby Russia away from their extreme anti-gay views since the anti-gay propaganda law was first proposed in January. Citing criticism he received in the past for being "too vocal" in denouncing the human rights abuses committed by Uganda's virulently anti-gay regime, Baird said he and his aides were cautioned against being too outspoken in their condemnation of Putin and the anti-gay laws, instead being advised "to
work behind the scenes quietly."
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Attempting to explain the history behind Russia's recent animosity towards its LGBT population, Baird points to a meeting of G8 foreign ministers in May 2012 as an early warning sign that Russia was keen to take action against the LGBT community:

"I can recall being in Washington when (then U.S. secretary of state)
Hillary Clinton was chairing the G8 foreign ministers meeting and we
put, as part of our statement, support for sexual minorities. Russia put
an asterisk beside it saying they were not on board. This did not just pop out of nowhere."

Comments

  1. says

    A lot of Russian animosity toward LGBT persons originates with the Russian Orthodox Church, which has replaced the Communist Party as Russia’s central moral authority. It will take a lot more than foreign disapproval and threats of boycotts to change official Russian thinking about this issue.

  2. BC says

    Leave it to Canada to voice their concern ahead of the US. Canadians should be proud.

    Why haven’t our leaders stepped up yet? How is it that we pride ourselves on being a leader among nations, when time and time again, we fail to lead?

  3. Jim Elliott says

    Another difference from the US, John Baird (as Minister of External Affairs one of the most senior members of the Canadian cabinet) is gay. There are no US cabinet officers who are gay (at least not openly so).

  4. Mike Ryan says

    The United States should demand the Olympic Games should be moved OUT of Russia or boycott them altogether. Eventually you’re going to see Canada followed by Spain followed by Britain etc call for a boycott while the U.S. (and Hillary) turn their head an cough.

  5. Mike says

    South Africa was barred from the Olympics in 1962 and was not allowed to participate until it ended apartheid. Russia has a history of these types of pogroms and the international community should sanction the Russian dictatorship the same way they sanctioned the racist South African government. Not only should the IOC take the Olympics away from Russia, they should disinvited the country any future Games until they end their latest pogrom.

  6. aregeejay says

    Thank you, sir. Finally a politician with some BALLS. I have already written the IOC, the USOC, and NBC that it is time to move the 2014 Olympics out of Russia and back to Vancouver, where the true Olympian spirit can soar FREE.

  7. Bart says

    The IOC needs to move the games. Leave Russia holding billions of dollars of debt and nothing to show for it. They also need to disinvite Russia to the games. Their laws are against everything the Olympics are supposed to stand for. And if any athlete cannot stand up as who they are, the games mean nothing.

    Even if it means splitting the games, moving certain events to certain cities. I understand on this sort of notice it is short and causes all sorts of logistical nightmares for security and NBC, but I’ll ask one thing: if this were a religious group (Christians, Jewish, Muslim) that was being persecuted in Russia, would the IOC stand up? What if it was an ethnicity or race? Would the IOC stand up?

    Gay athletes and those who support gay athletes or gay brother, sisters, aunts, uncles, parents, children, friends, loved ones of any sort or just gay people in general won’t be silent. And if they do it openly at a venue and Russia tries to arrest them or DOES arrest them, what is the IOC going to do?

    Move the games. Disinvite Russia.

  8. rick scatorum says

    Our neighbors to the north are so far ahead of the US.

    Clinton should be ashamed of herself

    What would Obama’s response be if Russia was doing the same to African-Americans?

  9. GregV says

    Fun fact: 44 out of 86 Gold Medals (just over half) at Vancouver’s Olympics were won by athletes living in countries that now support same-sex marriage rights (as well as other rights such as free speech!).
    Olympians are also nearly all in the age category which, in the civilized world, is strongly supportive of equal rights.
    So we can assume that, in spite of having had only 10 (if I remember correctly) gay athletes that we know of at the Vancouver Olympics (2 of whom waited till after the Games to come out), we should have a majority in Sochi as allies. The number of allies who are willing to take the risk of speaking openly in such a hostile country is still unpredictable, though.

  10. Neil says

    People talking about Clinton: John Kerry replaced Clinton as Secretary of State on Feb .1 (6 months ago!). Keep up with the news! That said, Kerry does need to speak out on this.

  11. Alex Parrish says

    At least 2 posters here have referenced former Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton as being somehow in a position to make some response. As a FORMER S.O.S. she is the LAST person the State Department would want to comment on this. It would be very bad form and interference if she usurped John Kerry’s role in this. Kerry needs to step-up on this but Ms. Clinton needs to remain in the background. I might suggest if you don’t even know that she is no longer S.O.S. you probably should not be commenting on possible diplomatic solutions.

  12. David says

    I wonder if other minorities are allowed to be in Russia too. Can Black people be in Russia, or Asian people? Or is that considered propaganda? When you’re dealing with barbarians it’s good to get all the facts on the table.

  13. denizo says

    Seriously, the stupidity in here is a bit bracing… “Clinton” is not a public official and suggesting she is is not bode well for your overall worldview.

  14. shanestud says

    Whenever Canada hosted past Olympic summer and winter games they built a pavilion for gay athletes where they could meet and hang out. Canada celebrated openly proud gay athletes. There will be no gay athletes pavilion in Sochi

  15. sam says

    Not sure if anyone else read the story about Russia on Yahoo News. I read through many of the comments on that story, it’s truly sad the state of affairs this country (U.S.A) is still in. So many Americans posting on that Yahoo story are admiring Russia’s stance. I do not understand why in the year 2012 so much discrimination continues; not only against gay, but all minorities. Hatred has no place in this world, yet it thrives more than honor…

  16. Bee Bop says

    The International Olympic Committee is obligated to find a suitable alternate venue for the Olympics in light of Russia’s anti-gay laws. No exception. The athletes deserve to participate after years of training. Russia is not the place to go. There are many other civilized countries who also competed for these Olympic games.

  17. Moz's says

    @ Fox

    sad irony

    Siberia was reporting temps last week in the mid to high 80’s (historical temps for the area never get over 56 this time of year)

    humanity has so fd the natural weather cycles that you might just get your wish

  18. says

    Jesus he’s hot. He’s exactly what I trawl for in the interporns – bulky, lumpy, DILFy, hopefully hairy from neck to toe including back. God I’m getting a hardon just looking at him. They tell me that’s a minority taste, but who cares. I wanna lick him all over like a giant ice cream cone.

  19. andrew says

    You know what would really help? If John Baird would finally come out of his “open secret” closet and head over to Russia as Canada’s openly gay Foreign Minister. It’s not like there’s no precedent either. Look at Germany. His advocacy is kind of hypocritically covering the self-loathing as the Federal Conservatives in Canada does not have a single openly gay MP.

  20. Christopher King` says

    There is nothing wrong with being outspoken when it comes to human rights on this planet.

    Frankly I’m hoping my country just decides to boycott the Sochi Olympics completely.

    It’s time we stand up for what’s right, and not cave in because of political pressure

  21. says

    @TCW – how dare you comment on Ottawa’s most infamous chickenhawk!

    i’m impressed by this, actually, as Baird has FOR YEARS been living in a glass closet. this is something he’s done that i’m actually truly genuinely impressed by.

    it’s disgusting, like we’ve all stated, that major world leaders are refusing to flat-out condemn what’s happening in Russia.

    what you permit, you promote.

  22. david from Edmonton says

    At least the Canadian Government has taken a stand, although short of outright boycotting Sochi, it’s all rhetoric and useless blah blah blah.

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