The organizers of the Sochi Olympics, coming to a Russia near you in February 2014, are so worried about the effects of sustained criticism of the country's anti gay laws that on Sunday they asked the International Olympic Committee for some help. The laws, which have absolutely overshadowed the games themselves as the countdown begins, has prompted calls for boycotts and protests as many wonder how safe LGBT athletes will be in the country during the games.
At issue is a series of anti-gay laws passed earlier this year in Russia, which ban the distribution of LGBT "propaganda," or basically anything that portrays gays and lesbians as "normal," and gay and lesbian relationships as "socially equivalent" to heterosexual ones. The laws also allow the government to detain foreigners suspected of being gay — which would be problematic, to say the least, for an openly LGBT athlete. Russia has said they won't enforce those laws for the duration of the Olympics, yet the overall hostility towards LGBT people in the country hasn't exactly helped to smooth things over. A legislator in the country, for instance, is currently trying to push through a bill that would take away children from LGBT couples.
Here's the request, from Sochi Olympics head Dmitry Chernyshenko, made at the organizing body's general assembly on Sunday: Chernyshenko asked the IOC to calm down "those who are still trying to speculate on this very transparent and very clear topic," adding, "It's very important to have your support to stop this campaign and this speculation regarding this issue."According to the Associated Press, the request may have earned the Sochi team at least some support from the IOC: President Jacques Rogge said that the group would tell athletes, once again, not to protest or make political statements during the games. Rogge added that at this point, he's satisfied with the explanations from Russia on their plans for the games, at least as it pertains to what seems to be his main area of concern: the athletes themselves: "the constitution of the Russian federations allows for homosexuality," he said, adding, "we have received strong reassurances that this law will not affect participants in the Sochi Games."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.