Jerrold Nadler | John Kerry | News | Russia | Sochi Olympics

Lawmakers Demand Action from John Kerry on Russia's Anti-Gay Laws and the Sochi Games

83 members of Congress, led by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) have sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking "what efforts have been undertaken, especially efforts undertaken in coordination with other foreign governments" to assure the safety of LGBT athletes and visitors to Russia during the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, the HuffPost reports.

NadlerSays the letter, in part:

We are writing to you regarding the troubling implications of a recently-enacted Russian law criminalizing actions or statements deemed to be in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. In light of the fact that the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games are scheduled to be held in Sochi, Russia, we would like to know what diplomatic measures the State Department is planning to take to ensure that American LGBT athletes, staff and spectators, and their supporters, are not arrested, detained or otherwise penalized during the Sochi Games.

The law, signed by President Vladimir Putin on June 30th, will penalize any individuals or groups found to be publicly supportive of LGBT equality. Press reports have indicated that punishable offenses would include public acknowledgment of one’s orientation, displays of affection between same-sex partners, statements in support of LGBT rights, and the use of symbols such as rainbows that are attributed to the LGBT community. Foreign nationals found to be in violation of the law could be arrested and detained for up to 15 days.

...

We are particularly troubled because while the newly signed law is the most recent and most extreme codification of Russia’s maltreatment of its LGBT citizens, it is also part of larger trend of anti-LGBT actions in Russia.

...

 In light of the importance of U.S. leadership on LGBT issues, and the quickly-approaching Sochi Games, we urge the State Department to determine the appropriate course of action to assure the safety and well being of LGBT and LGBT— supporting individuals involved in or attending the 2014 Sochi Olympics and Paralympics. We look forward to hearing from you regarding what efforts have been undertaken, especially efforts undertaken in coordination with other foreign governments, and are committed to working together with you on this issue.

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Comments

  1. This is excellent.

    Posted by: Wisebear | Aug 4, 2013 1:31:20 PM


  2. A good start.

    Posted by: Mike in the tundra | Aug 4, 2013 2:18:43 PM


  3. This pressure needs to continue and come from ALL world leaders and the countries participating in the upcoming "Olympics". LBGT athletes should not be the only ones left alone standing up to this hideous law.

    Straight allies from around the world, including celebrities, (television, film, music) and tourism, financial industries among others need to strongly speak out and insist Putin immediately rescind this law or expect the results of international outrage and shame.

    Putin is a reckless egomaniac. A "tiny" man, who is very concerned about how he is perceived in the world. His image is everything.

    His recent shirtless photos, the biggest fish caught, etc... are just a few examples of the strong "masculine" image he is trying to project. He wants you to think he is a tough badass but he really looks like a fool. We've seen it before and the world is watching.

    Stop traveling, and stop buying anything Russian until this law changes and LBGT russians are given equal protection.

    Posted by: Will | Aug 4, 2013 3:00:27 PM


  4. The US Olympic Uniforms should incorporate the "pride rainbow"

    Shove it russia

    Posted by: QJ201 | Aug 4, 2013 3:05:28 PM


  5. I noticed that some of the strong supporters of LGBT equality were not among the 83 named signers. I wonder how Mr. Nadler went about getting signatures for the letter. It seems to me that 83 is not a very impressive number in light of the seriousness of the issue. There are almost 200 democrats in the House and a couple dozen non-wingnut republicans, so why only 83 names? I'm not blaming Mr. Nadler, just wondering about what I see as a rather small number.

    Posted by: andrew | Aug 4, 2013 3:13:04 PM


  6. Oh, wouldn't it be great if we get video of Russian thugs beating up Olympic athletes and fans!? That would be the end of Putin. Even the IOC might complain. Might, but probably not.

    Posted by: anon | Aug 4, 2013 3:32:30 PM


  7. It's great to see that the focus is on lgbt athletes and ensuring their safety--NOT. Pity the Russian lgbt community who are being murdered and beaten, just so long as our athletes are OK that's all that matters. Talk about putting corporate interests ahead of human rights. This letter is disgusting and completely fails to acknowledge the suffering of Russian lgbts. Self interest never looked so ugly. A boycott is the only thing that woould make a difference


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    Posted by: Molc | Aug 4, 2013 4:00:49 PM


  8. It's great to see that the focus is on lgbt athletes and ensuring their safety--NOT. Pity the Russian lgbt community who are being murdered and beaten, just so long as our athletes are OK that's all that matters. Talk about putting corporate interests ahead of human rights. This letter is disgusting and completely fails to acknowledge the suffering of Russian lgbts. Self interest never looked so ugly. A boycott is the only thing that woould make a difference


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    Posted by: Molc | Aug 4, 2013 4:00:49 PM


  9. Ugh, it's so incredibly frustrating that all of the outrage and action over Russia's homophobia is being centered entirely around the Olympics. Literally no one aside from activists are going to talk about what's happening in Russia at all once the games conclude. This was never supposed to be about visiting Olympians and spectators who were obviously NEVER in danger of being arrested, the Russian government is not stupid and was clearly never going to cause a bunch of international incidents as they hosted the games. The calls to action by activists were SUPPOSED to be about the persecution of gay Russian citizens that will only continue to worsen once the Olympics are long over..

    Posted by: JMC | Aug 4, 2013 4:14:03 PM


  10. all home sexualize should be killed and not arrested only

    Posted by: kiboko yao | Aug 4, 2013 4:16:02 PM


  11. @MOLC: The 83 signers of the letter are members of the U.S. Congress writing a letter to the U.S. Sec. of State about their concern for the safety of U.S. citizens while they are in Russia attending the Olympic Games. That is and should be their main concern. However if you come down off your high horse and read their entire letter you will see that they also condemn Russia's treatment of their own LBGT citizens. They mention the "most extreme codification of Russia's maltreatment of its LGBT citizens" and call it "part of a larger trend of anti-LGBT actions in Russia".

    Posted by: andrew | Aug 4, 2013 4:29:42 PM


  12. Andrew, I fail to see how MOLC portrayed himself as being on a high horse or how the breadcrumbs about the persecution of Russian citizens contained in the letter that are completely irrelevant to what the letter is requesting Kerry do go against MOLC's comment..

    Posted by: JMC | Aug 4, 2013 4:35:55 PM


  13. On a related note, people should boycott Papa John's Pizza as well. "Bigoted Ingredients, Bigoted Pizza." A Papa John's franchisee in Ohio discriminated against Gay people in two separate incidents by refusing to serve them. A complaint was made to Papa John's corporate headquarters. When Papa John's customer service office sent details of the complaint to the franchisee for a factual response, the franchisee blew off the investigation and simply refused to respond. Calls were made to several Papa John's corporate offices besides their customer service office, including their franchisee office, their legal office, and even President and founder John Schnatter's office, demanding that Papa John's corporate either force the franchisee to respond to the investigation or assume the complaint was true, disavow the discrimination, and drop the franchisee. No one from Papa John's responded. Obviously, Papa John's supports discrimination against Gays. So we should not support Papa John's. Please disseminate this call for a boycott.

    Posted by: James E. Pietrangelo, II | Aug 4, 2013 4:46:31 PM


  14. JMC: I think MOLC's tone was arrogant, be that as it may. He stated that the letter "completely fails to acknowledge the suffering of Russia's LGBT's". That's just flat out incorrect. It does. However, the letter isn't intended to try to deal with all the human rights problems in Czarist Russia. The signers are American lawmakers whose main concern is and should be the safety of U.S. citizens.

    Posted by: andrew | Aug 4, 2013 4:56:19 PM


  15. THIS. This right here is the kind of stuff I appreciate in the democratic party I've soooo long supported.

    Posted by: Lev | Aug 4, 2013 5:28:43 PM


  16. This is amazing. There's absolutely no other way to describe it.

    Posted by: USC Trojans Fan | Aug 4, 2013 5:29:04 PM


  17. JMC:
    See I don't like when our community gets accused of things we're not doing. Not cool. I've been following this story very closely and as pointed above, every single prominent and grassroots LGBT group is impassioned with stating with clear clarity that it's the legislation in place we're fighting against and not just how tourists are treated for two weeks. I don't know which LGBT groups you're listening to, but every LGBT org site, radio spot, blog and quote I've read has not supported your accusations. The above is not mandated by LGBT but by elected officials. LGBT are doing our own thing making sure people know the heart of our protest. When we drop the ball, I'm first to point it out. But I don't like when the mob just starts attacking LGBT groups because it's the hip thing to do. We've done a phenomenal job getting the dialogue going about this issue in just a matter of a few weeks. Every part of the country and world has been exposed to the issue.

    Posted by: Alejandro | Aug 4, 2013 5:37:34 PM


  18. John Kerry is useless. Maybe his wife would have more influence.

    Posted by: Garth | Aug 4, 2013 6:41:52 PM


  19. Let's make sure gays ruin the Olympics. They are so well loved as it is.

    Posted by: Paul | Aug 4, 2013 6:43:26 PM


  20. somehow I don't think Canada's foreign minister needed to be pressured into taking action

    Posted by: t | Aug 4, 2013 7:34:12 PM


  21. @andrew : one reason for only 83 with some LGBT supports missing is that, once he had enough signatures, he might have sent the letter to get it to Kerry as fast as possible. Also, some who would normally sign such a letter could have been out of town or busy in meetings, or even home with a bad cold, and didn't see the letter or get to it in time.

    Posted by: Bill | Aug 4, 2013 8:08:06 PM


  22. John Kerry and Action are contradictory terms. Fundraising toadies may get appointed to high level jobs, but they are only good for raising funds.

    Posted by: Kev C | Aug 4, 2013 8:19:38 PM


  23. Kerry and Obama should have made statements by now -- not only regarding the safety of gay Olympians, but also about the persecution of Russian LGBTs.

    Posted by: Richard | Aug 4, 2013 8:53:08 PM


  24. Nazi Germany didn't start off rounding up the Jews and killing them. It started off with small antiJewish laws. The world thought it was not a cool thing to do but, hey it just the Jews. It was somewhat acceptable to dislike the Jews in 1933. How do you think the world would be reacting to Russia's anti-gay laws if instead of gay or gay propaganda it said Jewish or Jewish propaganda? Would that remind people of something we have seen before?

    Posted by: Jason B. | Aug 4, 2013 9:52:47 PM


  25. @Bill: Couldn't the office staff of each of the members who were "out of town or busy in meetings or even home with a bad cold" have contacted them about adding their name to the letter? We don't live in the stone age. Each member of Congress can be in instant communication with staff.

    Posted by: andrew | Aug 4, 2013 10:00:34 PM


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