Russian ambassador says country’s anti-gay laws ‘misunderstood’


 

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Some time ago, I wrote about Russia’s law banning non-traditional sexual relations which will be extended to, and include all athletes attending the 2014 Games in Sochi. This will be applied to anyone attending, be it athlete, spectator, vendor, or the man in the moon. I called it  “discrimination and harassment based solely on a person’s sexual orientation. Nothing more and it is totally wrong! It’s repressive and oppressive!”

Now, along comes Russia’s ambassador to Canada, Georgiy Mamedov, saying that Western nations “overreacted” in their concerns that gay athletes would face discrimination at the 2014 Winter Olympics, which open in Sochi in February 2014.

Mamedov said that the laws are widely misunderstood and that the Winter Games in Russia will fully comply with the Olympic charter. Among other provisions, the charter protects all athletes from discrimination. He also went on to say that: “We gave all assurances on all the levels that people of all stripes will enjoy themselves at the Olympics.”

I hope that people can read between the lines. My interpretation is that Russia will comply with the Olympic charter banning discrimination, but that is only during the period of the Olympic Games. It does nothing to address overall Russian government policy and ideology about discrimination and harassment based on one’s sexual orientation.

Once again, I must go back to Nazi German during the 1936 Olympic Games when Hitler camouflaged Nazi racist and discriminatory ideology in an attempt to convince the world that Germany was peaceful and tolerant. I termed it as one of the greatest “con jobs” of the twentieth century. The world, by and large missed the opportunity to boycott, or at the least protest Germany’s ideology and behaviour.

Much as I would like to, I still cannot recommend a boycott of the 2014 Sochi Games. I believe that those who have spent years training should not be denied the opportunity to compete because of Russia’s narrow-minded discriminatory laws.

But it is important that countries such as Canada, the U.S., Great Britain and Canada, their Olympic organizing committees, and their athletes to stand up, speak up, and speak out about Russia’s oppressive and repressive laws, on their own terms, but while still incorporating their beliefs and values.

I still feel that acts such as wearing pins in opposition to same-sex discrimination, publishing material to support the rights of people to practice their way of life, and holding hands during the opening ceremonies can still make an important statement. In this last example, I proposed that during the opening ceremonies, men and women hold hands, men hold hands with other men, and women hold hands with other women.  By doing this, a statement to the host country is made that relationships with the other sex, and relationships with the same sex should be treated equally.

Let us not go through life, like complacent sheep.

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