Athletes, sports officials and politicians worldwide have condemned recent Russian legislation that criminalizes public displays of support for gays and lesbians. But an international consensus is building that to boycott the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi would be counterproductive.
On Monday, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who married his longtime male partner three years ago, joined the chorus of opinionmakers rejecting a Sochi snub to protest the anti-gay legislation adopted in June.
“I consider the discussions on boycotting the Winter
“I believe we can better challenge prejudice as we attend, rather than boycotting the
Fry acknowledged in an interview with the BBC on Saturday that it was probably too late to have the Games moved from Sochi to Vancouver, Canada, the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics. But he urged athletes to display their support for gay rights by crossing their arms over their chest in the opening ceremony and wearing symbols of support for diversity such as the rainbow flag.
Sebastian Coe, who won the first of his four Olympic gold medals in middle-distance running after defying a Western boycott of the 1980
"I don't think they achieve what they set out to do. They harm only one group: the athletes," said Coe, now head of the British Olympic Assn.
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird also has been critical of the Russian law that bans discussing gay rights around children or making public displays in support of homosexuality, as in gay pride events. But he too has come out against boycotting Sochi.
"We want to see the athletes succeed," Baird told reporters accompanying him on a trip to Latin America, according to the Canada.com website. "We've got an important opportunity for the free world to put the focus on what's happened in Russia in the recent weeks and months, and hopefully that can be able to change."
While the leaders of major countries are seemingly agreed on the idea that attending the Sochi Olympics will give them a chance to speak out against the anti-gay law, those calling for a boycott continue to press for the gesture of censure against host Russia.
Rusa LGBT and its affiliated gay rights advocacy group Queer Nation on Monday rejected an
“Activists advocating boycotts of Russian products and the
Among those pushing for a boycott of Sochi is Masha Gessen, a prominent author and lesbian activist who said the law has forced her to flee Russia with her partner and their three children.
“Suspending these laws in Sochi for two weeks won’t help ordinary gay men and lesbians in the rest of Russia once the Olympics leaves town,” said Gessen, who wrote the critical biography of Russian President
"The IOC is saying, in essence, that it is willing to work with a fascist government as long as international visitors are protected," Gessen said. "This is a profoundly immoral position."
IOC President Jacques Rogge said this month that Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko had provided assurances that the law banning "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" wouldn't be applied to visitors attending the Feb. 7-23 winter games in Sochi.
Rogge said Friday, however, that he had asked for "clarifications" before passing final judgment on whether those assurances are sufficient for Russia to uphold the conditions and practices contractually demanded of Olympic host nations.