Russia has a problem: Gay people exist. They're ghastly and gross and bad, and they could destroy the traditional family and rip apart the very fabric of the nation. Even the idea of homosexuality represents a danger to the country, which is why this summer, Vladimir Putin signed wide-sweeping anti-gay and anti-gay propaganda laws to protect his citizens and fight against the country's population decline. The only problem is that next February, the world is going to crash upon Russia's shores and flood the western city of Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Gays and the ones who love them are sure to come. And now Russia is in a pickle.
As Gawker's Rich Juzwiak explained, even though consensual homosexual sex was decriminalized in Russia 1993, that barely means dick now, as discriminatory legislation has been introduced to further marginalize gays. On July 3, Putin signed a bill that not only outlawed Russian children from being adopted by same-sex couples, but outlawed Russian children from being adopted by couples who lived in countries where gay marriage is legal. Three days before that, Putin signed a law that banned the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" to minors. That means no PDA. No positive LGBT tweets. No rainbow pins. No support of homosexuality of any kind. Harvey Fierstein pointed out in The New York Times that the law grants police the authority to arrest anyone, including foreign nationals, they suspect of being gay, fine them, and even detain them for up to 14 days. All to protect the children.
But that means during the Sochi Olympics, anyone—tourists, trainers, fans, families, coaches, and athletes—could all be subject to arrest, right? I mean, just last month, four Dutch LGBT advocates were arrested and fined for speaking at a human rights convention and filming a gay documentary in which they interviewed 17-year-old minor. Everyone relax, the International Olympic Commission claimed in a statement. Foreign gays and gay-lovers aren't going to get pinched on their way to the ice rink. They wrote, "The IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games."
So...that's good, or at least it was, until Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko came out today saying that foreign nationals, even competitors, are going to be treated the same as anyone else during the Olympics.
"No one is forbidding an athlete with non-traditional sexual orientation from coming to Sochi, but if he goes onto the street and starts propagandizing it, then of course he will be held accountable," Mutko said to Ria Novosti. (The article was headed with this legal disclaimer: This article contains information not suitable for readers younger than 18 years of age, according to Russian legislation.)
It's business as usual, then, in Russia next winter. But for the LGBT community, that is terrifying. In May, a gay man in Volgograd was found dead after being attacked, sodomized with beer bottles, set on fire, and brained with a rock. In June, three men set a gay man's car on fire before stabbing and stomping the victim to death.
It's not like Russia's some uncivilized, backwater country, though. They're just trying to preserve their children's future. No homo stuff, and you should be fine.
Photo Credit: Associated Press