Next year will see Russia opening its gates to the world with the advent of the Winter Olympics yet, instead of feeling up-beat about such a grand sporting occasion, I can’t help but feel that by holding such a grand event within the realm of a country that is currently persecuting homosexuality, arresting Green Peace activists and is known worldwide for inexcusable racism in the sporting arena, we are effectively giving a very special present to a spoilt and stubborn enemy of progress.
The Olympics runs on a unifying spirit. It is the highest celebration of the world’s athletic talent, thus be the competitor white or black, oriental or Arabian, male or female, blonde or ginger, heterosexual or homosexual, none should submit to a psyche that stands against the pillars of the Olympic principle. Rewind to the 1980s and what we see is a series of boycotts from the United States and by the USSR of the other’s respective Olympics, and to me this is a telling point. If we can boycott such an event due to political orientations and foreign policy, surely we can boycott the same event due to an insult to the ethos of the equality of mankind.
In Russia there is currently a ban on the ‘propaganda of homosexualism, bisexualism, and transgenderism’, with a zealous homophobic attitude permeating throughout Russian society as well as up the political and legislative orders. Despite homosexuality being decriminalised in Russia in 1993, The Huffington Post pointed out that being homosexual was a crime up until 1999. With the comparatively evolved and integrated civilisation we claim to live in today, we don’t tend to stand by racist beliefs. Robert Mugabe is known to call homosexual people ‘worse than pigs, goats and birds’, so with this in mind would it seem fair to hold an Olympic event in a place that remains just as backward on the issue? The truth is Russia’s stance is currently not that different.
Wherever any particular demographic of people is persecuted is not a place where the Olympics should be held. Russia will end up losing out; if it carries on like this the country is only going to lose out on the talents of its homosexual citizens, as it did throughout the 70s. Instead of riding topless on horses (which, let’s be honest, has to hint he is secretly a big Brokeback Mountain fan), Putin needs to spend more time rethinking the way in which his government’s warped ethical framework is resonating through one of the world’s most powerful nations. If a government incarcerates non-violent Green Peace activists and ostracises its gay population it is not suitable to run an Olympics.
The point to ponder is this; would this Olympics go ahead if, instead of homosexuals, the subject was the welfare of women or of black people or of Argentinians or even men who couldn’t grow a beard? With movements around the world calling for (and being successful in) bringing Marriage Equality Acts into formal legislation, popular documentaries such as ‘Out There’ from Stephen Fry and a recent viral video of 13 Californian kids reacting to gay proposals, it is time for us all to realise that homosexuality is not different to heterosexuality. Let’s host the Winter Olympics somewhere else, somewhere closer to embodying the notions of freedom and liberty, somewhere like Guantanamo Bay or Kim Jong-Un’s garage. Paint your nails, sign a petition or, if you happen to be a beautiful Russian athlete, feel free to kiss your fellow beautiful athletes.