Olympics head Count Rogge claims Russian law isn’t anti-gay since it jails straights too

In an astounding statement, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Count Jacques Rogge, claimed today that Russia will not discriminate against gays at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, even though the Russians just said the exact opposite in a new letter released to the Associated Press.

And I’m not kidding.  Rogge’s official title is “count,” like Count Dracula. And it’s all over the Olympics Web site, meaning someone told them they’d better refer to Rogge as “count” or else.  A real man of the people, this guy.

In the letter, the Russians are now claiming that their draconian new anti-gay law is not anti-gay at all. Why?  Because it threatens to jail heterosexual Olympians too.

The Russians are now claiming, incredibly, that their “gay propaganda” law doesn’t discriminate against gays because it will also lead the incarceration of straight Olympians who say or do anything perceived as pro-gay.

Well, thanks for the clarification, Boris.

The depth of the ignorance of Count Rogge’s response to this new letter is astounding.

First, here’s what IOC President Count Rogge said:

“We have today received strong written reassurances from the Russian government that everyone will be welcome at the games in Sochi regardless of their sexual orientation,” Rogge said in a statement.

You can read the rest of Rogge’s statement here. (updated link)

The man is either a bit of an idiot, a liar, or both.

IOC President Count Jacques Roggee

IOC President Count Jacques Rogge

First off, taking a swipe at both gay Olympic attendees, and straight Olympic attendees who support their gay brethren, is not the opposite of discrimination. It’s even more discrimination.

That’s like saying you’re an anti-Semite, but since you’re willing to bash “Jew-lovers” too, you’re not anti-Semitic at all. Yes, and Hitler’s only mistake was not going after an equal number of gentiles.

But of course, Count Rogge’s statement is even worse than that.

The Russian law bans anything that might influence a child, either directly or indirectly, to think that being gay is okay.  That means a gay Olympian kissing his legally-wed husband, or holding hands, in public would be breaking the Russian law.  A straight Olympian running into the arms of her legally-wed husband following a big Olympic victory would not be breaking the Russian law.  So it’s beyond disingenuous for Count Rogge to claim that the law applies equally to both gay and straight Olympians.

It’s the exact same argument bigots make when they claim that gay men already have the right to marry in a country that doesn’t permit same-sex marriage.  How?  They can marry women.

It is likely illegal for anyone to acknowledge that an Olympian is gay, including the gay Olympian themselves.  The Russians have just sent every gay person attending the Olympics back into the closet under penalty of gulag.

For the IOC to suggest that this is not discriminatory is akin to suggesting that the Soviets had no problem with Jews, so long as Jews stayed in the closet and nobody knew they were there.  It is to suggest that the fault lies with the minority itself.  And it is by far the worst thing the IOC has done yet on this issue, since it is quite literally sanctioning hate and cloaking it in tolerance.

At least one thing is now clear: The IOC is in bed with the Russians, and has zero interest in defending either human rights or the Olympic charter. (Ironically, the US Olympic Committee recently said the Russian law violated the Olympic spirit, while the IOC now claims it’s in the best spirit of the Olympics. Perhaps they need to get their propaganda straight, as it were.)

I’m waiting for the first gay-bashing to take place at the Sochi Olympics, and for the IOC to defend the hate crime as not a hate crime at all, since, after all, the officially-sanctioned skinheads beat up a straight Olympian too.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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