September 26, 2013 at 12:26 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
IOC criticized over latest comments on anti-gay Russian law
Athlete Ally, All Out, IOC, International Olympic Committee, Russia, Sochi, gay news, Washington Blade

Members of All Out and Athlete Ally on August 7 presented a petition with more than 300,000 signatures to the International Olympic Committee that urges it to pressure Russia to end its gay crackdown. (Photo courtesy of All Out)

The Associated Press on Thursday reported a member of the International Olympic Committee who is charged with overseeing preparations for the upcoming 2014 Winter Games said the IOC is “fully satisfied” that Russia’s gay propaganda to minors ban does not violate the Olympic charter.

The news agency reported Jean-Claude Killy, chair of the IOC Coordination Commission, made the comments during a press conference in Sochi, Russia. The news agency said Killy indicated the committee also concluded “the IOC doesn’t have the right to discuss the… laws that are in place in the country hosting the games” unless they clearly violate the Olympic charter.

Killy’s comments come against growing outrage over the gay propaganda law and Russia’s overall LGBT rights record that threatens to overshadow the Sochi games that will take place in February.

Actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein and others have called for a boycott of the Olympics. Author Dan Savage and LGBT rights advocate Cleve Jones are among those who have called for a boycott of Russian vodka.

President Obama, who met with Russian LGBT rights advocates during the G-20 summit that took place in St. Petersburg earlier this month, opposes any boycott of the Sochi games. Retired tennis champion Martina Navratilova, gay Olympic diver Greg Louganis and a coalition of LGBT advocacy groups that include have also taken a similar position.

U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) last week criticized the Kremlin over its gay rights record in an op-ed the Russian online newspaper Pravda published. Cher told Reuters on September 17 she turned down a request to perform at the Sochi games because of Russia’s gay propaganda law.

Russian police on Wednesday arrested a group of LGBT rights advocates who tried to stage a gay Pride event outside the Sochi games’ headquarters in Moscow.

An IOC spokesperson provided the Washington Blade with a statement about the IOC Coordination Commission’s latest trip to Sochi to oversee preparations for the games. It did not include any references to the gay propaganda law and Russia’s LGBT rights record.

The IOC later told the Blade the AP misquoted Killy during the Sochi press conference, saying he said “as long as the Olympic Charter is respected, we are satisfied.”

“That is clearly not expressing any view on the law itself, and Mr. Killy made it abundantly clear that the IOC never comments on national legislation,” the Olympic body said.

The IOC added it “will continue to work to uphold the Olympic Charter, which allows all participants, from spectators to athletes, to attend the games regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.”

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin is among those who criticized Killy’s remarks on Thursday.

“If this law doesn’t violate the IOC’s charter, then the charter is completely meaningless,” Griffin said. “The safety of millions of LGBT Russians and international travelers is at risk, and by all accounts the IOC has completely neglected its responsibility to Olympic athletes, sponsors and fans from around the world.”

Members of COC Nederland, a Dutch LGBT advocacy group, on September 17 met with members of the National Olympic Committee of the Netherlands to discuss their concerns over the safety of LGBT athletes who will compete in the games and others who will travel to Sochi. They also requested a meeting with Dutch IOC member Camiel Eurlings to address the aforementioned issues.

COC Nederland President Tanja Ineke on Thursday said her organization is “outraged” by Killy’s comments on Russia’s gay propaganda law.

“This conclusion is unheard of,” she said. “The European Union, Council of Europe, United Nations and numerous governments have all clearly stated that this law is discriminatory and an infringement of the human rights of LGBT people. The IOC disregards these conclusions and instead chooses to be the accomplice of the homophobic Russian government.”

Ineke added her organization will “urgently” ask Eurlings to “protest” the IOC’s position on the law.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • Does IOC really mean:
    " Interested Only (in) Cash?"

  • Maybe “civilized” countries should pass a law like Russia has done– outlawing propaganda, to minors, from the International Olympic Movement. The text of the amended anti-LGBT Russian law is below:

        On Introducing Amendments to the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offences
        The Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offences (Collection of Laws of the Russian Federation, 2002, No. 1, Article 1, No. 30 et al.) shall be amended as follows:
        1) add Article 6.13.1a reading as follows:
        “Article 6.13.1a: Propaganda of the International Olympic Movement among minors”

    Propaganda of the International Olympic Movement among minors –
        is punishable by an administrative fine for citizens in the amount of four thousand to five thousand rubles; for officials –forty thousand to fifty thousand rubles; for legal entities – four hundred thousand to five hundred thousand rubles”;
        2) in Article 28.3, Section2, Clause 1 figures “6.13” shall be changed to “6.13.1a”.

        President of the Russian Federation
    to the Draft Federal Law “On Amendments to the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offences”
        Propaganda of the International Olympic Movement in Russia takes a wide sweep. This propaganda is delivered both through the media and through active social actions that promote the International Olympic Movement as a behavioral norm. It is especially dangerous for children and youth who are not yet capable of a critical attitude to the avalanche of information that falls upon them every day. In this regard, it is necessary to primarily protect the younger generation from the effects of the International Olympic Movement propaganda, and the present bill pursues this goal.
        Family, motherhood and childhood in the traditional, adopted from the ancestors understanding are the values that provide a continuous change of generations and serve as a condition for the preservation and development of the multinational people of the Russian Federation, and therefore they require special protection from the state.
        Legitimate interests of minors are an important social value, with the goal of the public policy toward children being to protect them from the factors that negatively affect their physical, intellectual, mental, spiritual,and moral development. Paragraph 1 of Article 14 of the Federal Law № 124-FZ of24.07.1998 “On Basic Guarantees of Child Rights in the Russian Federation” directly states the obligation of public authorities of the Russian Federation to take measures to protect children from information, propaganda and campaigning that harm their health and moral and spiritual development.
        In this connection it is necessary to establish measures to ensure intellectual, moral and mental security of children, including the prohibition to perform any act aimed at the promotion of the International Olympic Movement. By itself, the prohibition of such propaganda as an activity of purposeful and uncontrolled dissemination of the information that could harm the health and moral development, as well as form misperceptions about the social equivalence of conventional and unconventional existential beliefs, among individuals who, due to their age, are not capable to independently and critically assess such information cannot be regarded as violating the constitutional rights of citizens.
        Given the above, a bill suggesting amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences was prepared to introduce administrative responsibility for propaganda of the International Olympic Movement among minors. In this case, administrative responsibility is established not for the sheer fact of the person’s International Olympic Movement affiliation, but only for propaganda of the International Olympic Movement among minors.
        This bill imposes the right to make records of administrative offences for public actions aimed at propaganda of the International Olympic Movement among minors on the law enforcement officials (the Police), and trial of cases of administrative offences– on the judges.

  • So if an Olympic athlete dares to wear a rainbow, or raises a rainbow-colored fist as an awards ceremony, what happens? IOC is just digging itself in deeper and deeper.

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