Heartbreaking Video Imagines the Sochi Olympics for Gay Athletes
Russia may have technically decriminalized homosexuality back in 1993, but this year the country enacted its widely criticized anti-gay "propaganda" laws, which essentially prohibit any expression of non-heterosexual relationships.
As a result, the 2014 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Sochi, Russia, have come under particular fire from international human rights groups. They've leveled their criticisms not only at Russian officials but at the Olympic committee's decision to keep its upcoming event in a country that discriminates openly against the LGBTQ community.
Coupled with its online petition, the group hopes to garner enough international support to make Russian officials repeal their anti-gay legislation.
Since its release on November 4, the video, titled "#LoveAlwaysWins," has gained more than 700,000 hits on YouTube—and drawn a spate of homophobic comments underneath it.
But those anti-gay voices are being drowned out by others, including the United Nations General Assembly, which this week called for a "truce"—imploring Russia to "promote social inclusion without discrimination of any kind" starting the week before the Olympics and extending to one week after the Paralympics conclude in March.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told Reuters last month that everything was being done to make sure Olympic athletes and guests feel comfortable, "regardless of nationality, race or sexual orientation." But many remain unconvinced by his statements.
Anti-gay sentiment in the country is virulent; there's been a marked rise in homophobic vigilantism in Russia since it adopted its new legislation, and teenagers in particular who are gay or suspected of being gay have been the targets of some of those violent attacks. And last month in St. Petersburg, 200 protesters showed up to shut down a handful of gay activists who were trying to celebrate International Coming Out Day.