ABC: “Gay athletes could be prosecuted at 2014 Winter Olympics”

ABC is now reporting what we mentioned yesterday, that the Russians’ promise to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), that their draconian new anti-gay law won’t apply to athletes and guests attending the Sochi, Russia Winter Olympics in 2014, appears to be unraveling.

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A second ABC story is even more direct. It’s titled: “Gay athletes could be prosecuted at 2014 Winter Olympics.”  ABC notes that “the International Olympic Committee appears only cautiously optimistic that the games will be safe for gay athletes and fans.”

Only “cautiously optimistic” that gay athletes and gay fans will be “safe” at the 2014 Sochi Olympics?  Ouch.

Russian vigilantes kidnap and attack a young gay Russian they first stalked on a local social media site.

Russian vigilantes kidnap and attack a young gay Russian they first stalked on a local social media site.

The man behind the new anti-gay law, Vitaly Milonov, is saying that the Putin government has no authority to declare a law off-limits for certain people during a certain time period.  If it’s the law of the land, it’s the law of the land.

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Of course, as I noted before, there’s another problem for Olympic-goers in 2014: How is the IOC going to reach agreement with the Putin-emboldened skinheads to not beat up, or worse, kidnap and torture, gay and gay-friendly Olympic attendees?

Even if the laws are not enforced during the Olympics, gay visitors may face a local backlash. Three-quarters of Russians say society should not accept homosexuality, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. Just 16 percent say society should be accepting of the LGBT community. The numbers aren’t much different among young Russians, either: Just 21 percent of those polled under 30 thought homosexuality should be accepted.

The extent of the Russian 2014 Olympic problem is evident from a simple Google search.  When I turned off my personal search results, and typed in “Sochi Olympics”, here’s what came up – a lot of bad news for both Russia and the International Olympic Committee (I’m partial to the second result):

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Similar results when you type in “2014 Olympics”:

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Of course, Russia brought all this on itself.  It was the Russian parliament, and President Vladimir Putin’s, personal war on gay and trans people that emboldened Russia’s far-right nuts (many of whom are suspected to be working in cahoots with the Russian authorities), and now those nuts are taking over the country and posing a direct threat to foreigners.

Russian vigilantes show off a young gay boy they claim to have abducted and then doused with urine after entrapping him via a gay social media site.

Russian vigilantes show off a young gay boy they claim to have abducted and then doused with urine after entrapping him via a gay social media site.

Of course, it’s not like Putin and the parliament weren’t the first to target foreigners – they were.  Russia recently passed legislation giving the government explicit permission to arrest pro-gay foreigners for up to 14 days, then kick them out of the country.  And the Russians wasted no time using the law to target foreign visitors deemed too pro-gay, arresting a Dutch film crew for filming a documentary about gay life in Russia.

Gay Russian man kidnapped and beaten by vigilantes.

Gay Russian man kidnapped and beaten by vigilantes, who filmed the entire affair and published it online.

The Russian government wanted violence, and they got violence.  And now it’s endangering the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Russian tourism, and Russian businesses like Stolichnaya.

Heckuva job, Putie.


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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