The Russian government is now officially using the Olympic logo, the famous five rings, as a stamp of approval for its official gay-bashing, and the International Olympic Committee isn’t terribly interested.
We’d reported the other day that as part of their growing war against gay people and other minorities, the Russian government was now wiretapping gay rights advocates, and foreign human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and America’s Human Rights Campaign.
What we didn’t know at the time was that the Russian government was using the Olympic rings to validate their ongoing dehumanization of gay and trans people in the country.
J. Lester Feder of BuzzFeed reported last night that while Russian state television, Russia 1, was airing its breathless announcement that the government had wiretapped “foreign homosexualists” trying to take over Mother Russia, they put the Olympic logo on the screen the entire time.
The Russians are hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics in the town of Sochi. That is, assuming they ever get any snow, and that the Russians actually finishing building the Olympic village.
For several years now, but particularly in the last six months, Russian President Vladimir Putin has launched a war on minorities such as gay and trans people, and those deemed “too black” by the Russians (which is practically much anyone who isn’t blonde). The unofficial pogrom has led to an increase in violence against gay, trans and people of color in the country, while the official police forces remain disinterested in prosecuting the criminals since the victims are people President Putin doesn’t like. And in Russia, the rule of law, as it were, is based on the whim of the current autocrat.
The police forces are, however terribly interested in harassing minorities.
The increasingly violent climate against gay and trans people in the country has led the Anti-Defamation League to call for a new Jackson-Vanik amendment covering sexual orientation.
The, this past summer, Russia passed a nationwide “gay propaganda ban” that makes it basically illegal to be openly gay, but only to say or do anything that suggests that being gay might be okay. In fact, a Russian newspaper is currently in trouble because it published a quote from a gay person in an article about the person being fired for being gay. Even though the article was relatively critical of the gay person, the fact that the newspaper quoted the victim, and the victim was gay, is enough to trigger the anti-gay law.
Now, as you might recall the International Olympic Committee is downright evil about protecting its brand. They came after the Gay Olympics, and even the Paralympics. The Paralympics, for people with disabilities, had to even give up their logo years ago because it was deemed too close to the Olympic rings.
But when someone uses the actual Olympic rings to oppress millions of people, then it’s okay. (Speaking of the IOC turning a blind eye towards associating its brand with fascism, 1936 comes to mind.)
Here’s what the International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesman had to say about the Russians using the Olympic logo to put a patina of approval on their human rights violations:
“We are not going to make further comment purely on the basis of a Russian TV show.”
Can’t you just feel the Olympic spirit?