Global protests of Russia’s anti-gay laws before Sochi Olympics

A demonstrator in Spain holds a poster depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin with make-up as he protests against homophobia and repression against gays in Russia, in front of the Russian Embassy in Madrid on Aug. 23, 2013. Photo: AFP.
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Public demonstrations urge Olympic sponsors to speak up for the Olympic principle of non-discrimination

All Out, an international nongovernmental organization calling for the equality of LGBT individuals, announced a Global Speak Out to support Russian gays and lesbians and call for Olympic sponsors to speak out against Russia's anti-gay laws, which violate the spirit of Principle 6, the non-discrimination principle in the Olympic charter.

Public demonstrations will be organized all around the world, including St. Petersburg and Sochi, Rio de Janeiro, London, Buenos Aires and Asunción, the capital of Paraguay. On Sept. 3, the first Global Speak Out for Russia organized by All Out took place in more than 34 cities in 21 countries.

 

“Olympic sponsors are failing to live up to their commitments", said André Banks, the executive director and co-founder of All Out. "The International Olympic Committee [IOC] has confirmed that Principle 6 includes discrimination based on sexual orientation. Athletes all over the world are speaking out. We’ve just heard the Russian government is considering amendments to the anti-gay laws. But sponsors continue to look the other way while gays and lesbians in Russia suffer.”

Principle 6 of the Olympic charter states that discrimination of any kind is incompatible with the Olympic movement. The Principle 6 Campaign allows Olympians and Olympic sponsors to denounce the anti-gay violence and discriminations raging in Russia right now while still respecting the Olympic Committee’s rules against political speech and without fear of penalties from the International Olympics Committee.

While pressure has intensified on sponsors, many of whom have significant investments in Russia apart from the Olympics, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Visa and others have refused to specifically address the anti-gay laws or openly pressure the IOC to do more.

On Feb. 5, protesters will gather wearing red in cities around the world to urge sponsors to speak out with the message "Principle 6: Sport does not discriminate" and "Russia, we're with you / No to the anti-gay laws."

"The Global Speak Out means a lot to us here in St. Petersburg, Russia", said Dmitry one of the local organizers in St. Petersburg. "Together with thousands of people around the world we are going to show Russian authorities they can't attack lesbian, gay, bi or trans (LGBT) Russians with impunity, without risking their international reputation, and the success of our Olympics. We will not be silent any more! We will fight back! For our rights! For human rights!"

All Out and Athlete Ally, a nonprofit organization focused on ending homophobia and transphobia in sports, co-launched the Principle 6 campaign, inspired by the values of the Olympic charter, as a way for athletes, sponsors and global supporters to celebrate the Olympic principle of non-discrimination and call for an end to Russia’s anti-gay laws prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

A specially branded clothing line in support of the Principle 6 campaign and LGBT advocacy groups in Russia fighting discrimination and anti-gay laws was launched in December. The clothing line is available in American Apparel stores internationally and online. Already dozens of Olympians and professional athletes have joined the campaign.

The list of Olympians supporting Principle 6 includes Sochi-bound Olympians Belle Brockhoff (Australia), Heath Spence (Australia) and Mike Janyk (Canada).

"There is a huge disconnect between what the Olympics represent and the climate in which they are being played. With the world watching, it will be a moment for everyone in Sochi to show that the Olympic movement is about principles, not politics," said Hudson Taylor, executive director of Athlete Ally, who will be in Sochi starting Feb. 3. "The games are a celebration of the very best of humanity — a celebration that knows no geographic or political boundaries."

During the Sochi Olympics, Athlete Ally Executive Director Hudson Taylor will be in Sochi Feb. 3–9 to lead the efforts on the ground.

For key facts on the global outcry against the anti-gay laws in Russia and a detailed timeline of All Out's work since 2011, visit Allout.org/en/russia-timeline.

Since 2011, more than 400,000 All Out members have helped spark the global outcry against the anti-gay laws by signing and sharing All Out's petition, watching All Out's viral video #LoveAlwaysWins, which calls on the IOC to speak out, and even going to Switzerland to meet with the committee.

 

Ongoing and upcoming activities

In January, more than 100,000 All Out members have called on Olympic sponsors to support Principle 6. More than 150,000 All Out members have e-mailed Olympic sponsor Coca-Cola's CEO urging the company to denounce the anti-gay laws, followed by a demonstration with giant mobile ads circling around Coca-Cola's HQ in Atlanta. All Out members have also helped take over McDonald's new social media campaign #CheersToSochi with comments and creative images highlighting the company’s lack of action.

On Feb. 5, two days before the Opening Ceremony, supporters from all over the world will organize or join peaceful demonstrations to call for Olympic sponsors to speak out against Russia’s anti-gay laws and urge sponsors to support Principle 6. Olympians and global citizens can also show their support by buying and wearing Principle 6 gear. After covering costs, proceeds from the sale of gear will go to support Russian LGBT groups.

To see the full list of Olympians supporting Principle 6 or to learn more about the campaign, visit Principle6.org.

— From a press release provided by All Out

 
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