Contrary to the International Olympic Committee who received “assurances from the highest level” of the Russian government that gay Olympic athletes, foreign visitors and the media will not be persecuted under the “gay propaganda” bill, yes they will.
Not only the co-writer of the bill, Vitaly Milonov (petition US government to ban Milonov’s Visa here), stated that the law will be enforced, today, the Russian Sports Minister himself, Vitaly Mutko, said the following:
No one is forbidding an athlete with non-traditional sexual orientation from coming to Sochi, but if he goes onto the street and starts propagandizing it, then of course he will be held accountable.
We’ll give you a minute to absorb that. There’s an additional stipulation that we’ve mentioned before. As part of Putin’s Gay Purge, if you act gay or “pro-gay” in Sochi during the 2014 Olympic games, you can be arrested and held for 14 days. Foreigners have already been arrested for the offense, meanwhile, international Olympic committees have already started condemning these laws. The Kremlin had even investigated seemingly untouchable celebrities Madonna and Lady Gaga for “spreading gay-propaganda” after their recent highly publicized concerts in Russia. Unable to do so, the Kremlin is now investigating the openly “pro-gay” pop stars for something something blah blah blah about their Visas.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the bill against “spreading homosexual propaganda to minors” in June, effectively outlawing any public mention of existence of LGBT. Along with arrest, transgressors face fines of $24,000 – $30,500 for legal entities, $1,220 – $1,530 for officials, and $120-$150 for individuals.
The fine for individuals increases to over $3,000 when the internet is used to share such information, a detail that has dramatic, troubling implications. Russia’s freedom of speech is confined to the internet, from recently-suspiciously-investigated activist/Putin’s only possible political rival Alexei Navalny’s popular LiveJournal blog to groups like Children 404: We Exist that help LGBT teens on Russian Facebook alternative VKontakte. To have the punishment for contrarian opinion be increased when it is published on the internet sets a devastating precedent. At the same time, there’s a country-wide campaign launched by a Nationalist former skinhead that encourages luring, torturing and videotaping extreme bullying of gay youth in Russia, then uploading it to VKontakte. The culprits of this abuse are neither properly investigated nor punished by the authorities.
The current reality of LGBT life is now making its way to the English-speaking hemisphere of the internet with images of small groups of peaceful protestors being brutalized by thugs, religious extremists and cops. Aside from boycotting Russian products and demanding that Gay Purge politicians be denied US Visas, what else can we do?
Maybe we should petition the Russian government to issue an Official Kremlin Guide to Acting Gay and Pro-Gay!
Because really, what do they mean when they’re threatening to punish the “propagation” of gayness? Maybe borrow something from those medical examinations the Kremlin has new army recruits go through? Is there a maximum quota of gay that will be overlooked, a grading system perhaps? How and how straight will the athletes have to dress and act in the Olympic stadium and on the Olympic skating rink? Aside from gay hand holding and gay flag waving, how do we really distinguish regular and morally acceptable Olympians from those planning to go propagandizing their gayness in the streets?
Wasn’t it so much easier when a government would issue badges to ease this confusion?