Sochi Olympics and Russian anti-gay law

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ClairesMommy's picture
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Sochi Olympics and Russian anti-gay law

The International Olympic Committee is waiting for more clarifications from the Russian government on the anti-gay law that is overshadowing preparations for the Winter Games in Sochi, IOC President Jacques Rogge said Friday.

The law, signed by President Vladimir Putin in June, bans "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" and imposes fines on those holding gay pride rallies. It has caused a major international outcry and spawned calls for protests ahead of the Feb. 7-23 Olympics in the Black Sea resort.

Rogge said the Russian government provided written re-assurances about the law on Thursday, but that some elements are still too unclear to pass judgment.

"We are waiting for the clarifications before having the final judgment on these reassurances," Rogge said, a day before the start of the world athletics championships in Moscow.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko insisted Thursday that Olympic athletes would have to respect the laws of the country during the Sochi Games. On Friday, he said there was no way Russia would back down under political pressure. Referring to Western criticism, Mutko was quoted as saying by Interfax: "I wouldn't call the pressure light. Russia must understand that the stronger we are, the more other people aren't going to like it. We have a unique country."

"We don't have to be afraid of threats to boycott the Olympic Games," Mutko said. "All sensible people understand that sports demand independence, that it is inadmissible that politics intervene."

On Thursday, Mutko did make it clear that the private lives and privacy of athletes would be respected as it is guaranteed by the Russian constitution.

Rogge said that was essential.

"The Olympic charter is clear," Rogge said. "A sport is a human right and it should be available to all, regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation."

Even if Russia accepts that principle, the law leaves open the issue of athletes speaking freely during the games.
"As far as the freedom of expression is concerned, of course, this is something that is important," Rogge said. "But we cannot make a comment on the law" until the clarifications have been received.

"I understand your impatience to get the full picture, but we haven't [received] it today," Rogge said. "There are still too many uncertainties in the text."

Rogge said the problems seemed to centre on translations.

"We don't think it is a fundamental issue," he said at a news conference following a meeting of the IOC executive board with the International Association of Athletics Federations.

http://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/story/2013/08/09/sp-ioc-sochi-olympic-winter-games-reax.html

What trumps what, in your opinion? Politics and the laws of a particular country, or the IOC charter that sport is a human right and should not be subject to discrimination? Do you think boycotts would be effective or not?

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The IOC should find another country that can host on this short notice. It's not fair to the athletes to boycott it, but Russia cannot get away with telling athletes they will be beaten or jailed for being who they are. They bid for the Games under false pretences and if they aren't going to uphold the charter, the Games cannot be held there.

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"blather" wrote:

The IOC should find another country that can host on this short notice. It's not fair to the athletes to boycott it, but Russia cannot get away with telling athletes they will be beaten or jailed for being who they are. They bid for the Games under false pretences and if they aren't going to uphold the charter, the Games cannot be held there.

I'm not saying i have a better solution, but this is really idealistic. How could anyone host such a massive event on such short notice? I would imagine it would be helpful if it was a city/country in the recent past who has done it, as they would have all the facilities theoretically, but i still don't see how one could accomplish such a feat, and do it well in such a short period of time.

I don't know what a good solution is. As an athlete, i would selfishly not want to boycott however I would admire anyone who chose to do so.

I really don't know.

mom3girls's picture
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Am I reading this article incorrectly? I read in it that athletes will only have issues if they bring in gay "propaganda" or try to have gay rallies. If they will only get in trouble for rallies and the such I am okay with that. The Olympics should be about the sport and not anything else.

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Have you seen what they are doing in Russia? If you are a gay athlete, and you win and then kiss your legal spouse, the police can beat you and put you in jail. The law is open ended to mean anything. I don't trust them.

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"KimPossible" wrote:

I'm not saying i have a better solution, but this is really idealistic.

I totally agree. Vancouver is talking about what it can do- but it is really short notice and it would basically just be the events. I think Russia should have to bankroll it too, but that's not happening.

Most likely, just like Berlin 1936, it will go ahead, and Russia will look awful and athletes will be scared and some awesome gay athletes will do fantastically. But athletes should not have to be scared at the Olympics.

GloriaInTX's picture
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So we allow China to host the Olympics when their human rights record is MUCH worse.... but tell Russia they can't? Makes sense.

Hmmm.... looks like the same exact thing would have happened in China.
Chinese Gay Pride March Organizer Detained

ClairesMommy's picture
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From the article you quoted, Gloria:

Chinese society is increasingly accepting of gays and lesbians, although same-sex partnerships are not recognized and no laws outlaw discrimination against sexual minorities. A law against "hooliganism" used to target gays was eliminated in 1997 and homosexuality removed from the list of mental disorders in 2001.

And also, from your article, the gay pride march organizer was detained for holding an illegal protest, not because he's a gay rights activist. The article stated that every protest organizer must get approval from the police, which is "rarely" given. And at least China is going in the right direction with gay rights, instead of into the dark ages like Russia with their brand spanking new law.

And IMO it's not a case of just letting Russia go ahead and have the Olympics because another country with a bad human rights rep held them a few years back and oh well what can you do; it should be a case of the IOC making sure that a potential host country upholds basic human rights and does not subject its citizens and visitors to discrimination based on sexual orientation. The IOC is being a bit too standoffish and not doing as much as they should.

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"ClairesMommy" wrote:

And IMO it's not a case of just letting Russia go ahead and have the Olympics because another country with a bad human rights rep held them a few years back and oh well what can you do; it should be a case of the IOC making sure that a potential host country upholds basic human rights and does not subject its citizens and visitors to discrimination based on sexual orientation. The IOC is being a bit too standoffish and not doing as much as they should.

Sorry I don't think there is any difference in the law in Russia and the law in China when the effect is the same, they are not allowed to hold gay right's marches.

And IMO that is exactly what it is. You can't all of a sudden tell a country they can't hold the Olympics when another country that has worse human rights not just on this but on a HOST of other things was allowed to. That is a HUGE double-standard.

ClairesMommy's picture
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So, your stop-gap measure is to ban countries from hosting the Olympics because of $hitty human rights track records, instead of holding those countries accountable for them?

Alissa_Sal's picture
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I think we try to be better moving forward, not keep it the same or worse. I don't like the argument of "Oh, we did something wrong and crappy in the past, so now we must forever more do the same wrong and crappy thing or else it's a big double standard." We can't go back and change the past to un-hold the Olympics in China. If China is ever up for the bid again, I hope that we keep their human rights laws in mind the next time. But moving forward, let's try to be better about it.

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"ClairesMommy" wrote:

So, your stop-gap measure is to ban countries from hosting the Olympics because of $hitty human rights track records, instead of holding those countries accountable for them?

So what do we go over every countries laws with a fine tooth comb before we allow them to host the Olympics? So I guess France wouldn't be able to host the Olympics because they don't allow women to wear head scarves?

It doesn't say they are throwing anyone in jail either, its says FINES.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I think we try to be better moving forward, not keep it the same or worse. I don't like the argument of "Oh, we did something wrong and crappy in the past, so now we must forever more do the same wrong and crappy thing or else it's a big double standard." We can't go back and change the past to un-hold the Olympics in China. If China is ever up for the bid again, I hope that we keep their human rights laws in mind the next time. But moving forward, let's try to be better about it.

There were plenty of protests over it at the time, but they still went ahead with it.
Protests on Olympics Intensify Over China's Human-Rights Record - US News and World Report

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Unfortunately I don't think. I can debate this one calmly. Supporting and defending state supported bigotry and hate is just so ugly that I don't have polite language for anyone that homophobic

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

There were plenty of protests over it at the time, but they still went ahead with it.
Protests on Olympics Intensify Over China's Human-Rights Record - US News and World Report

Okay? So that means that we have to do the same forever more? Imagine if the rest of life worked that way. You can't ever choose a better or kinder choice, because you flubbed it last time. I would hate that!

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Okay? So that means that we have to do the same forever more? Imagine if the rest of life worked that way. You can't ever choose a better or kinder choice, because you flubbed it last time. I would hate that!

So we are going to disallow every country that doesn't have freedom of speech laws that are the same as ours from hosting the Olympics? What gives us the right to impose that standard on other countries?

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

So we are going to disallow every country that doesn't have freedom of speech laws that are the same as ours from hosting the Olympics? What gives us the right to impose that standard on other countries?

We aren't imposing our standards on other countries. We're not saying that they aren't allowed to have that law - we don't have that authority over another country. But we have a right to say that we won't subject our athletes to laws that could potentially violate their human rights. It's kind of like when we boycott a business here at home; they can still do whatever shady thing they're doing to cause the boycott, but we also have a right to say that we aren't going to take our business there.

I think we should probably take the human rights laws on a case by case basis. If we were talking about a dictatorship where people can't speak out against the government without being jailed or killed, then yeah, I'd say I wouldn't support having the Olympics there. If the laws are just a little bit different, then it may be okay.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

We aren't imposing our standards on other countries. We're not saying that they aren't allowed to have that law - we don't have that authority over another country. But we have a right to say that we won't subject our athletes to laws that could potentially violate their human rights. It's kind of like when we boycott a business here at home; they can still do whatever shady thing they're doing to cause the boycott, but we also have a right to say that we aren't going to take our business there.

I think we should probably take the human rights laws on a case by case basis. If we were talking about a dictatorship where people can't speak out against the government without being jailed or killed, then yeah, I'd say I wouldn't support having the Olympics there. If the laws are just a little bit different, then it may be okay.

So here we are talking about they will incur a fine if they have a gay rights parade. Not sure how that is a huge human rights violation. I'm not sure why athletes would be holding a gay rights rally in another country in the first place.

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"Potter75" wrote:

Unfortunately I don't think. I can debate this one calmly. Supporting and defending state supported bigotry and hate is just so ugly that I don't have polite language for anyone that homophobic

Same here.

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

So here we are talking about they will incur a fine if they have a gay rights parade. Not sure how that is a huge human rights violation. I'm not sure why athletes would be holding a gay rights rally in another country in the first place.

I think "promoting a gay lifestyle" is a little bit more ambiguous than you're letting on. Some people here in the US boycotted JC Penny just for having Ellen as a spokesperson for "promoting a gay lifestyle", and the only thing she did was exist and be gay. If "promoting a gay lifestyle" can be interpretted as "being a sort of famous gay person" then why wouldn't the athletes worry about it? It is a huge insult to our athlete's dignity that they may be fined or whatever just for being who they are, or for something as innocent as kissing their spouse in public (something that straight people would take for granted.) Our Olympians deserve better than that.

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I do not know what the answer is as far as boycotting this Olympics or not. I think it is awful to beat or jail someone for their sexual orientation. I do think there is also beyond awful things that happen in China where the Olympics were in the past. It would be hard to only have the Olympics in places that were only in line with our beliefs. It is unfortunate, but I think it just is the way it is.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I think "promoting a gay lifestyle" is a little bit more ambiguous than you're letting on. Some people here in the US boycotted JC Penny just for having Ellen as a spokesperson for "promoting a gay lifestyle", and the only thing she did was exist and be gay. If "promoting a gay lifestyle" can be interpretted as "being a sort of famous gay person" then why wouldn't the athletes worry about it? It is a huge insult to our athlete's dignity that they may be fined or whatever just for being who they are, or for something as innocent as kissing their spouse in public (something that straight people would take for granted.) Our Olympians deserve better than that.

I don't agree. I think the media is playing up something that would never happen. You seriously think Russia is going to start fining a bunch of athletes in the middle of the Olympic games? What a public relations nightmare. And worst case if it DID happen... which I highly doubt, would you equate hurting someone's dignity with a human rights violation that should keep Russia from hosting the Olympic games? Especially given the countries that they have allowed to host it in the past that have perpetrated REAL human rights violations such as putting people in prison for speaking against the government. I don't agree with Russia's law AT ALL, since I believe in freedom of speech, but this is purely a media stunt.

On Thursday, Mutko did make it clear that the private lives and privacy of athletes would be respected as it is guaranteed by the Russian constitution.

Rogge said the problems seemed to centre on translations.

"We don't think it is a fundamental issue," he said at a news conference following a meeting of the IOC executive board with the International Association of Athletics Federations.

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

Especially given the countries that they have allowed to host it in the past that have perpetrated REAL human rights violations such as putting people in prison for speaking against the government.

Are you saying that beating people in the street for kissing each other is not a REAL human rights violation??? Because they're gay and therefore deserve it.

Also China should not have had the Olympics. But they also didn't pass a law making it legal to beat athletes in the street a year before Beijing.

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"blather" wrote:

Are you saying that beating people in the street for kissing each other is not a REAL human rights violation??? Because they're gay and therefore deserve it.

Also China should not have had the Olympics. But they also didn't pass a law making it legal to beat athletes in the street a year before Beijing.

Can you show me ANYWHERE that says this law makes them able to beat people in the streets? Because not ONE thing I have read states that.

Russia's parliament has unanimously passed a federal law banning gay "propaganda" amid a Kremlin push to enshrine deeply conservative values that critics say has already led to a sharp increase in anti-gay violence.

The law passed 436-0 on Tuesday, with just one deputy abstaining from voting on the bill, which bans the spreading of "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" among minors.

The law in effect makes it illegal to equate straight and gay relationships, as well as the distribution of material on gay rights. It introduces FINES for individuals and media groups found guilty of breaking the law, as well as special fines for foreigners.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/11/russia-law-banning-gay-propaganda

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

Can you show me ANYWHERE that says this law makes them able to beat people in the streets? Because not ONE thing I have read states that.

Gloria, the pride parades have been ending in violence. Russian people - not the police - are turning up to beat people in the streets. And when the police show up they arrest the gay people. It is against the law to say you are gay, to talk about gay rights, to hold hands with someone of the same gender, to kiss. People are being beaten and jailed for these things. It isn't about fines. It has gone beyond that. Russia cannot protect athletes from the Russian people. No one knows what will happen and that is scary!

And here are links with all sorts of photos of beaten gay activists if you doubt what is going on.

http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/watch-anti-gay-violence-breaks-out-in-moscow-as-russia-criminalizes-telling-kids-gays-exist/politics/2013/06/11/68525

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/photos-from-russia-everyone-needs-to-see

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"fuchsiasky" wrote:

Gloria, the pride parades have been ending in violence. Russian people - not the police - are turning up to beat people in the streets. And when the police show up they arrest the gay people. It is against the law to say you are gay, to talk about gay rights, to hold hands with someone of the same gender, to kiss. People are being beaten and jailed for these things. It isn't about fines. It has gone beyond that. Russia cannot protect athletes from the Russian people. No one knows what will happen and that is scary!

And here are links with all sorts of photos of beaten gay activists if you doubt what is going on.

Watch: Anti-Gay Violence Breaks Out In Moscow As Russia Criminalizes Telling Kids Gays Exist | The New Civil Rights Movement

36 Photos From Russia That Everyone Needs To See

That is NOT what is being discussed here. What is being discussed is this particular law. This law DOES NOT give anyone permission to beat gay people. If people were jailed at protests it was NOT because of this law, in fact the articles you posted happened before this law even went into effect.

fuchsiasky's picture
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It hasn't gotten better with this law. It has only legalized the violence. Honestly, if you can look at photos of people being beaten and still defend the situation then I can't debate with you. I know you will never side with gay people - even if they are being fined, jailed and beaten. So it just isn't worth it.

GloriaInTX's picture
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"fuchsiasky" wrote:

It hasn't gotten better with this law. It has only legalized the violence. Honestly, if you can look at photos of people being beaten and still defend the situation then I can't debate with you. I know you will never side with gay people - even if they are being fined, jailed and beaten. So it just isn't worth it.

I already said I don't agree with the law. But I also said that things are being attributed to this law that just aren't there. It does not allow anything except for FINES so that does not legalize violence. If there are other problems they existed before this law was even passed. There is just no basis for telling Russia that they cannot host the Olympics because of this law. If they are going to tell Russia that they can't host the Olympics because some of their citizens are beating up gay people than that is a completely different argument.

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

I already said I don't agree with the law. But I also said that things are being attributed to this law that just aren't there. It does not allow anything except for FINES so that does not legalize violence. If there are other problems they existed before this law was even passed. There is just no basis for telling Russia that they cannot host the Olympics because of this law. If they are going to tell Russia that they can't host the Olympics because some of their citizens are beating up gay people than that is a completely different argument.

Gloria, the fines aren't for citizens beating up gay people; they are for those who are holding gay rights marches and protests or otherwise spreading 'gay propaganda'. Even if what you said was true, I would absolutely say that YES, the law does allow for violence against gays because there is no serious consequences for the haters doing the beating up because they would only receive a fine. But that's not the case - The case is that gays are being punished, for lack of a better word, for 1) being openly gay and being fined for it; and 2) getting the crap kicked out of them.

fuchsiasky's picture
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Russia's Anti-Gay Law Will Impact Foreign Tourists, Possible Olympic Athletes: Report

Tourists can also be jailed for up to 14 days and then expelled from the country. It isn't just fines.

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"ClairesMommy" wrote:

Gloria, the fines aren't for citizens beating up gay people; they are for those who are holding gay rights marches and protests or otherwise spreading 'gay propaganda'. Even if what you said was true, I would absolutely say that YES, the law does allow for violence against gays because there is no serious consequences for the haters doing the beating up because they would only receive a fine. But that's not the case - The case is that gays are being punished, for lack of a better word, for 1) being openly gay and being fined for it; and 2) getting the crap kicked out of them.

Exactly. The fines are for people who are holding gay marches. 1) and 2) are completely separate things. If Russia doesn't have laws against beating up gay people that still has nothing to do with THIS law that only fines people for protesting. If Russia is not protecting gay people from getting beat up then they need to look at their assault laws and why they are allowing people to get beat up. THIS law has nothing to do with allowing violence against gays.

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"fuchsiasky" wrote:

Russia's Anti-Gay Law Will Impact Foreign Tourists, Possible Olympic Athletes: Report

Tourists can also be jailed for up to 14 days and then expelled from the country. It isn't just fines.

It says detained, not jailed. Would you classify everyone that we detain to send back to other countries as jailed? I would guess that is so they can deport gay activists who come from other countries to hold gay rallies. If they were going to just willy nilly start jailing all the gay tourists in Russia I think we would have heard about it by now. Again... I don't agree with the law, but WE don't have the right to tell Russia that they can't host the Olympics because of this particular law.

The International Olympic Committee issued a statement Wednesday in response to the furor, saying the Russian government had given assurances that gay visitors would not be affected by the controversial law.

"The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and of course athletes. We would oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardise this principle," it said.

"To that end, 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."

USA Track and Field, the U.S. national governing body for athletics, is treating the matter as a safety and security issue, spokeswoman Jill Geer told CNN.

But, she said, the International Association of Athletics Federations has guaranteed it will not affect the athletes in any way.

Protests, boycott calls as anger grows over Russia anti-gay laws - CNN.com

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I would say that the law codifies bigotry towards gay people which then encourages citizens to be violent against them. I mean, if the government is saying that being who you are is a criminal offense, some people may take that as just "punishing criminals."

I can't believe anyone is defending Russia on this one. I should probably stop debating this one as well.

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Gloria, what exactly do you think "detained" means? I'm pretty sure they're not putting up tourists in the Ritz if they're accused of "spreading the gay", so to speak.

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It is not debating whether Russia is right or wrong. I very much think Russia is wrong. The question is if it is a serious enough wrong to warrant boycotting the Olympics. I think it is a valid point to say that China has way worse policies and was still allowed to have the Olympics. If the Olympics was only at countries that followed every single human rights laws that we do, there would be very few places the Olympics would be. I would even guess there are other countries that would boycott the US if it was very strict.

I do not believe Gloria is saying Russia is right. I believe she is saying that it would be hypocrital to say that what Russia is doing is worse than what China does.

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"blather" wrote:

The IOC should find another country that can host on this short notice. It's not fair to the athletes to boycott it, but Russia cannot get away with telling athletes they will be beaten or jailed for being who they are. They bid for the Games under false pretences and if they aren't going to uphold the charter, the Games cannot be held there.

Agreed.

"fuchsiasky" wrote:

It hasn't gotten better with this law. It has only legalized the violence. Honestly, if you can look at photos of people being beaten and still defend the situation then I can't debate with you. I know you will never side with gay people - even if they are being fined, jailed and beaten. So it just isn't worth it.

Agreed.

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

It says detained, not jailed. Would you classify everyone that we detain to send back to other countries as jailed? I would guess that is so they can deport gay activists who come from other countries to hold gay rallies. If they were going to just willy nilly start jailing all the gay tourists in Russia I think we would have heard about it by now. Again... I don't agree with the law, but WE don't have the right to tell Russia that they can't host the Olympics because of this particular law.

We, meaning the USA, do not have that right, but the IOC absolutely does. And the IOC should not tolerate this threat to international athletes. There is no definition of what a "pro-gay rally" is to be banned, and so far the Russians have taken it to mean simply being gay in public, and the Russian people seem to be equating "beaten" with "fined." And if I'm being "detained" for 14 days before being thrown out of a country, then I don't really care *where* the detaining is being done; if I'm not allowed to do what I came to that country to do, then I might as well be in jail.

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

It is not debating whether Russia is right or wrong. I very much think Russia is wrong. The question is if it is a serious enough wrong to warrant boycotting the Olympics. I think it is a valid point to say that China has way worse policies and was still allowed to have the Olympics. If the Olympics was only at countries that followed every single human rights laws that we do, there would be very few places the Olympics would be. I would even guess there are other countries that would boycott the US if it was very strict.

I do not believe Gloria is saying Russia is right. I believe she is saying that it would be hypocrital to say that what Russia is doing is worse than what China does.

That is a moot point.

Alissa_Sal's picture
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Yeah, I just don't think "We let this happen before so we have to let it happen again forever" is that great of an argument.

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In order to successfully boycott the Olympics (IMO) there would have to be clear, spelled out rules about what laws or policies were not allowed. You could not (again, in my opinion) boycott Russia this year over gay rights but then the next time allow a Country like China that violated other human rights. I think there would need to be clear spelled out rules before hand. This time, I think would be not enough time to establish those rules.

fuchsiasky's picture
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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

It is not debating whether Russia is right or wrong. I very much think Russia is wrong. The question is if it is a serious enough wrong to warrant boycotting the Olympics. I think it is a valid point to say that China has way worse policies and was still allowed to have the Olympics. If the Olympics was only at countries that followed every single human rights laws that we do, there would be very few places the Olympics would be. I would even guess there are other countries that would boycott the US if it was very strict.

Were the policies in China putting the athletes at risk? Because they are in Russia. They cannot guarantee that the athletes will be safe - both from the police and the public. To me that warrants the question as to whether to move them. If you want to host the Olympics, you have to take responsibility for the safety of your guest athletes.

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By the way, the type of behavior that is considered a "pro-gay rally" includes TALKING about being gay in public, where children can hear it. Or holding hands.

fuchsiasky's picture
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They can move them as long as it isn't to Vancouver! We are still paying for the last one and can't afford to host again. Not when we can't afford to pay our teachers!

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Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

In all honesty, as much as I would love to see the Olympics just up & move, it probably can't happen logistically. There is just too much infrastructure needed. What is more realistic is for the IOC to negotiate something along the lines of the Olympic Village will be neutral ground, and not subject to certain local laws. Athletes will be able to kiss & hold hands with their partners, gay visitors will be welcomed as anyone else, and anti-gay violence will not be tolerated. There might be some precedent for it. I remember reading that the IOC does something like this in regards to alcohol consumption regardless of local drinking age laws. If underage athletes go to a restaurant outside, they can't drink, but they can drink in their own apartment or in the "Club Bud" and "Heinekin House" sponsored areas.