Saturday, February 9, 2013

Olympic Homophobia In Russia

The [anti-gay] legislation has sparked concern among out athletes like New Zealand speedskater Blake Skjellerup, who told USA Today that he was concerned about the legislation. “I don’t want to have to tone myself down about who I am,” Skjellerup said. “That wasn’t very fun and there’s no way I’m going back in the closet. I just want to be myself and I hate to think that being myself would get me in trouble.”

Even if the legislation doesn’t pass (it is expected to), Russia has already taken steps to fight homosexuality in its society and at its Olympics. Last year, a Russian judge banned the national Olympic committee from setting up a Pride House, a feature of the past several Olympics that hosts LGBT athletes. A Pride House, the judge wrote, would “undermine the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation” because it “contradict[s] the basics of public morality and the policy of the state in the area of family motherhood and childhood protection.” Meanwhile, an IOC spokesperson took a bold stand by telling USA Today that it was “too early for the IOC to comment on Russia’s proposed anti-gay legislation because it has not been voted on.”

There were 23 open athletes at the 2012 London Olympics, a sharp rise from the 10 that participated in Beijing in 2008. While they faced an atmosphere of tolerance in Britain, which approved marriage equality this week, their Winter counterparts won’t be greeted similarly.

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