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Russian Anti-Gay Policies 'Could Kill Its Cities'

St-petersburg
Russia has undergone no shortage of bad press in recent months. Its newly adopted anti-gay propaganda hve prompted outrage the world over, and have already put a damper on events such as the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, months or even years in advance. 

Now, The Atlantic is reporting that Lansing, Michigan, is joining the growing list of global municipalities that are loooking to sever ties with their Russian "sister cities", which already includes the likes of Milan, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Reykjavik. Thus, as Russia inists on moving contrary to the global march toward human rights, the consequences could prove to have political and economic impact:

"St. Petersburg was, for hundreds of years, a city that took pride in its relative openness to global culture. When Peter the Great founded the city in 1703, he envisioned it as a "window on the West," a place where the values of the Enlightenment could be explored and celebrated. It was designed and built by the finest talents from around the world.

"Now, St. Petersburg is leading the way backward. Russia and its cities, by pursuing draconian anti-gay policies, are shutting themselves out of a global community where the benefits of an open society are ever more apparent."

Stolichnaya-1280x960It's no secret that international events such as the Olympics and the World Cup have the potential to generate a host of financial benefits for its host city and host nation. This is, of course, why so many cities vie for a chance to host such events. That said, should hosting a global event prove to be the potential source of controversy for the event's governing body, it would almost certainly deter them from coming back to that same city of country in the future. That's also not counting international boycotts of Russian products, which already have large companies such as SPI Group looking for ways to completely sever ties with the anti-gay nation. Let's also not forget the tourism dollars that Russia stands to lose in the future, from both gay tourists as well as those whom support human rights in general.

Finally, as The Atlantic illustrated by presenting the story of journalist and activist Masha Gessen, Russia's anti-gay laws have prompted an exodus of gay citizens, as well as their advocates. This only exacerbates the country's appartent desire "to shut down intellectually," and cost the country potentially vital intellectual capital. Thus, while the short term costs of losing "sister city" partnerships may be small, in the words of The Atlantic, "They are losing their future."


Russia To Host FIFA World Cup In 2018, Officials Already Being Questioned About Anti-Gay Laws

FIFA 2018The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi could prove just the start of the anxiety and frustration already plaguing LGBT athletes, sports fans, and supporters across the globe. Russia is currently set to host FIFA's World Cup soccer tournament in 2018, and Russia 2018's CEO, Alexey Sorokin, is already being grilled with questions.

Sorokin recently gave an interview to World Football Insider, in which he defended Russia's anti-gay laws as "largely misinterpreted." "It is designed against active propaganda of homosexuality, not against homosexuality itself. That is a big difference," he argued. Of course, those committing acts of homophobic violence or luring gay teens on the internet don't seem to be making the same convenient distinction between homosexuality and "propaganda". He assures gay participants in the upcoming tournament that, as long as they keep their private lives to themselves, "they have nothing more to fear." He also adds that:

"They have guarantees and assurances that they will not be affected. The minister of sport [Vitaly Mutko] has given a full and detailed explanation. It would be strange to see someone choose such an event as the Olympic Games as a stage to propogate these ideas. We suppose people come to participate or to watch and be part of it not to display their views. Private life should remain private." 

Alexey-sorokinSo you're allowed to be gay, just not in any sort of public way...

"Would you like a World Cup where naked people are running around displaying their homosexuality? The answer to that is quite obvious."

The answer might not be as "obvious" as you think. But still, wait for it...

"The Olympics and World Cup are not a stage for various views... not for Nazis, not for any other ways of life. It should be about football and nothing else."

...and there it is. Obviously, this comparison of LGBT people to Nazis hasn't sat well with a host of groups and entities, including FIFA, who asked for greater clarification regarding the law, according to National Post. Unfortunately, the organizers behind Russia 2018 must have given them the answers they were looking for. FIFA said in a statement that:

"Russia has committed to provide all visitors and fans with a warm welcome and ensure their safety. FIFA trusts that the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts will deliver on this promise."

Before anyone gets too anxious, though, know that FIFA's policies towards discrimination are substantially broader than those currently being used by the International Olympic Commission. Article 3 of its statutes clearly state that:

“Discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.”

FIFa StadiumThus, at least FIFA seems better poised at present to protect its LGBT athletes, coaches, and spectators from Russia's incredibly anti-gay climate. There is no doubt, however, that Sochi's WInter Olympic Games will set some sort of precedent for the World Cup.

It is also worth mentioning that FIFA has already awarded its 2022 World Cup tournament to Qatar, another country with anti-gay laws on the books. Thus, the ripple effects of the 2014 Olympics will almost certainly be felt for years and years to come.


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FIFA Head Sepp Blatter Apologies for World Cup Joke About Gays

Blatter

FIFA President Sepp Blatter apologized for cracking a joking earlier this week that gays should "refrain from sexual activities" at the Qatar World cup in 2022 because homosexuality is illegal there. 

Said Blatter: "I will not enter into such a discussion but I will just say here if I hurt a group of people in the world by making those comments then I regret it. It was not my intention and it will never be my intention to go into any discrimination because this is exactly what we (FIFA) are against, so therefore if somebody feels they have been hurt, then I regret and I present apologies for that."

In related news, there were rumors earlier this week that some members of the World Cup Selection Committee which chose Qatar were paid $10 million for their vote.


Towleroad Guide to the Tube: #802

LOUIE GOHMERT: The Ed Show on the Texas lawmaker's hateful words about gays.

QATAR: FIFA President Sepp Blather's remarks about gays and the World Cup get the Next Media Animation treatment.

MARY TWEETED JOSEPH: The digital story of the Nativity.

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For recent Guides to the Tube, click HERE.


Watch: FIFA President Sepp Blatter Jokes That Gays Should 'Refrain from Sexual Activities' at 2022 Qatar World Cup

Blatter

FIFA President Sepp Blatter was asked about gays who would like to go to Qatar for the World Cup in 2022 but are too afraid because homosexuality is banned in the country.

After laughing and looking around, Blatter responded, jokingly, "I would say they should refrain from any sexual activities."

He quickly clarified, but not before media took note of his rather tasteless joke.

Added Blatter: "We are definitely living in a world of freedom and I'm sure when the World Cup will be in Qatar in 2022, there will be no problems. You see in the Middle East the opening of this culture, it's another culture because it's another religion, but in football we have no boundaries. We open everything to everybody and I think there shall not be any discrimination against any human beings be it on this side or that side, be it left, right or whatever."

Watch clips of Blatter's statements, AFTER THE JUMP...

Former NBA star John Amaechi slammed Blatter:

“Anything less than a full reversal of his position is unacceptable and if the FA and football associations around the world fail to acknowledge this insult, they too will be complicit. If sport cannot serve to change society, even temporarily during the duration of an event like the World Cup that invites the world to participate, then it is little more than grown men chasing a ball and we should treat it as such."

Continue reading "Watch: FIFA President Sepp Blatter Jokes That Gays Should 'Refrain from Sexual Activities' at 2022 Qatar World Cup" »


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