Russia, the Winter Olympics and LGBTI people
The situation for LGBTI people in Russia deteriorates by the day and our leaders must do more to protect their safety and welfare. An open letter from former Australian Olympian and gay rights advocate, Ji Wallace.
- Mr Vladimir Putin, President of Russia
- Mr Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee
- Mr Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia
- Senator Bob Carr, Foreign Minister
- Mr John Coates, President of the Australian Olympic Committee
- Ms Kim Crow, Australian Olympic Committee Athletes Commission Chair
- Mr Paul Murray, Australian Olympic Committee Athletes Commission Deputy Chair
The recent approval by the Russian government of a ‘gay propaganda’ law banning the promotion of non traditional relationships to minors, supposedly to shield the nation’s children from homosexuality has had an immediate impact on Russia’s LGBTI community.
As the world looks on, the situation for Russia’s LGBTI people worsens daily. We have witnessed news reports of increasing violence. Gay Pride demonstrations have been disrupted, assaults of LGBTI people has become commonplace, gay teenagers are being kidnapped and assaulted, some rumoured to be murdered by Neo Nazi skinheads and recently even tourists have faced arrest. Worst of all these crimes against LGBTI are largely being ignored if not encouraged by law enforcement.
Mr Putin, your march towards dictatorship is unnervingly similar to another famous tyrant, whose actions impact can still be felt more than half a century later. By enacting these dehumanising laws, you sir are allowing a number of grievous acts. Fascists can attack activists, clergy can attempt exorcisms of homosexuals. We see violent collusions with Neo Nazis, brutal supportive clergy murders and homophobic vitriolic broadcasts on government-controlled television have become the norm. This can all be stopped by you. Look to your humanity and apply compassion towards all Russian citizens and allow all communities inside Russia to prosper without the fear.
Mr Rogge, I commend you on your enthusiastic requests to Russia to clarify these brutal laws and how they will be enforced during the Sochi Olympic Games.
However without accompanying protest your requests shall be filled with rhetoric and assurances that not even you can act upon once someone has been harmed. The International Olympic Committee’s recent threats of disciplinary action against athletes violating Olympic Charter Rule 50 only fuels the well-held perception the IOC is enjoying the spoils of corruption well associated with selection of hosts for the Olympic Games.
Prime Minister Rudd and Senator Carr, Australia will be present at the upcoming G20 summit in St Petersburg, Russia. What form of protest do you envisage you will put to Mr Putin upon your attendance? State-sanctioned discrimination by any person, no matter what status they hold in society should not be ignored. You have the opportunity to stand for what is good in humanity for, to paraphrase Edmund Burke, all it takes for evil to prosper is for the good men to do nothing.
Mr Coates, Ms Crow and Mr Murray, while I agree that a boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi is not the answer to the archaic Russian ‘anti-gay’ laws, the diplomatic poker face the AOC has chosen to enact is disappointing. Olympic Charter Rule 50 may ban the games as a platform for propaganda but multiple charters read a commitment by the IOC and therefore the AOC to encourage and support initiatives blending sport with culture and education, and to place sport at the service of humanity and thereby promoting peace.
Being proudly Australian we should be standing up for what is right, no matter the political consequence. Do you sleep well knowing you sit idly by while sending Australian athletes from the LGBTI community into a clear and real danger? What side of the fence do you sit on?
Come On Australia. Let your voice join mine in protest. Lobby our prime minister, lobby the IOC, contact your local papers, say violence and discrimination will not be tolerated.
Whole hardheartedly yours,