Oh, so you thought as time passed, progress was achieved? Well, everything is backwards in Russia, friend! Russia is in the midst of passing an anti-gay bill, which basically criminalizes any public display of gay rights. And since the 2014 Winter Olympics are being held in Sochi, Russia, this will affect people outside the country, too.
The bill has been described as “barbaric,” and it “equates homosexuality to pedophilia.” Last year’s Olympics represented progress for gay athletes, and now they’ll have to deal with this absurdity, if Russian lawmakers have their way. The law is intentionally vague, leaving Russian authorities with sweeping openings to persecute gays. Look at that picture above? I mean, is Vladimir Putin going to kiss that male judoka? Are they gonna start going at it, in public? Arrest that man!
“I don’t want to have to tone myself down about who I am,” (Openly gay New Zealand speedskater Blake) 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.”
There’s plenty of improvement needed in America, but at least we’re getting progress. Things started out awful, and have improved. In Russia, they’re regressing. It’s pathetic.
Russia’s cultural crackdown on gay rights has grabbed headlines the last few months. When Lady Gaga spoke out for gay rights at a concert in St. Petersburg, a conservative politician wanted to prosecute the singer for breaking the law. Madonna was sued by conservative activists after a concert, though a St. Petersburg court threw out the case. In December, a supporters group for Zenit Saint Petersburg urged the soccer club not to sign black or gay players.
The IOC is standing on the sidelines for this, which is unfortunate. It’s one thing to let the games be held in a controversial locale, but it’s another to do that, but not try and make things better. The EU and U.S. State Department have “expressed concern,” but there’s no signs of action, yet.
Megan Rapinoe, a U.S. soccer player who came out before the London Olympics, weighed in with this:
“What year are we in? People are still being arrested for saying it’s OK to be gay?” she said. “What is the IOC or major sponsors doing, if anything?”
In Russian New Years, the year stays the same. Every leap year, it goes back one.