Stephen Fry, in an open letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron and other dignitaries -- read the whole thing.
Self-aware people are beginning to wake up to the implications of the planned Sochi Winter Olympics next year. As in 1936, the world is about to offer legitimization to a thuggish regime which is increasingly making the persecution of a vulnerable minority a centerpiece of its domestic policy. So far, Cameron (and Obama) don't get it, but the potential is there for more pressure to be exerted. Petitioners against the new Russian anti-gay laws got a meeting with the IOC (a rare event) last week, and the Russian regime has promised that the laws will not be used to harass Olympic athletes or visitors.
That commitment, of course, doesn't address the real issue, since the laws remain in force within Russia, and it will take far more than protests or petitions or even an outright Olympic boycott to bring about repeal. No single sanction led South Africa to abandon apartheid; it was the steady pressure of continuing ostracism, combined with the courageous activism of people within the country, which eventually accomplished that. But the world cannot claim it is applying serious pressure to Russia if it makes an exception for the Olympics.
It has been suggested that the various Olympic ceremonies should be turned into venues for protest. This isn't a bad idea, but apparently the IOC itself will not tolerate it:
"But the IOC replied the games were not the place for ‘political’ statements. Any participant who steps out of line may be punished, not by the Russians but by Olympic chiefs themselves. LGBT rights campaigners have called on athletes to wear ‘rainbow pins’ to show their support for LGBT people in the opening and closing ceremonies. But the IOC pointed GSN to rules banning that....The IOC still supports gays and lesbians being allowed to compete, but won’t let them use the Olympics as a platform to highlight Russia’s anti-LGBT human rights abuses." (found via David Ehrenstein)
The IOC has never objected to gangster states exploiting the Olympics to enhance their prestige, but if ordinary people want to protest, it retreats behind the absurd claim that the Olympics are "non-political".
The ideal solution would be to move the Winter Olympics to another venue. However, without the threat of a boycott by major countries, this won't happen. The message from Western governments needs to be clear and simple: Move the games, or we won't attend.