13 August 2013

Blood games

"Putin is eerily repeating this insane crime, only this time against LGBT Russians. Beatings, murders and humiliations are ignored by the police. Any defence or sane discussion of homosexuality is against the law. Any statement, for example, that Tchaikovsky was gay and that his art and life reflects this sexuality and are an inspiration to other gay artists would be punishable by imprisonment. It is simply not enough to say that gay Olympians may or may not be safe in their village. The IOC absolutely must take a firm stance on behalf of the shared humanity it is supposed to represent against the barbaric, fascist law that Putin has pushed through the Duma. Let us not forget that Olympic events used not only to be athletic, they used to include cultural competitions. Let us realise that in fact, sport is cultural. It does not exist in a bubble outside society or politics. The idea that sport and politics don’t connect is worse than disingenuous, worse than stupid. It is wickedly, wilfully wrong. Everyone knows politics interconnects with everything for “politics” is simply the Greek for “to do with the people”. An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 on Sochi is simply essential. Stage them elsewhere in Utah, Lillyhammer, anywhere you like. At all costs Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world."

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.


Blogger mendip said...

As an aside, I wonder if anyone has noticed Putey's own preference for homoerotic imagery in his self-promotion propaganda. Methinks he doth protest too much...

13 August, 2013 07:08  
Blogger Ahab said...

Mendip -- Funny you should mention that. Gay Star News noticed the homoerotic elements too! :D


On a more serious note, condemning Russia for its anti-LGBTQ record is not enough. Boycotting the Sochi games or demanding a new menu would send a clear message that bigoted policies will not be tolerated.

13 August, 2013 08:48  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Fascist propaganda uses homoerotic imagery? Gosh, who would have thought it?

16 August, 2013 04:04  

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