An official from the International Olympics Committee says she has faith in the Russian government when they say they will drop their anti-gay laws during the Sochi Olympics. Newly-elected International Olympics Committee executive board member Anita Defrantz says she has to believe that because some members of the Russian government have sent assurances they’ll drop the ban against “homosexual propaganda” during the Olympics, they actually will.
This is the level of professionalism and practiced protection LGBT people and allies will be existing under when they travel to Russia in February. Belief and faith.
Fortunately, Defrantz was balanced by Harvey Milk’s nephew, Stuart Milk, of the Harvey Milk Foundation, who condemned Putin’s anti-gay laws. “This law actually incites hatred and incites violence,” Milk said.
“We have seen that throughout Russia and through out Eastern Europe where there are other nations like Lithuania that had the same type of anti-LGBT propaganda law since 2008. So they’re using their cultural nationalism as the basis for discrimination. And the one thing that I think we have to look out for is how long is their shopping list?
It may start with LGBT people, but it doesn’t stop with them. So this is a real warning, and the international community’s response and IOC’s response is what the world is watching right now.”
Milk also called on Russia to remove their ban on the Pride House. “I think we need to be supporting a Pride House. We have these wonderful cultural houses that are sometimes national, sometimes regional, sometimes cultural. And the Russian government has banned what we had for the previous two Olympics. They’ve banned an LGBT Pride House. So let’s move that into the Olympic village, do a Pride House. Show that the Olympics is inclusive of everyone.”
Defrantz was opposed to moving the Pride House into the Olympic Village. “My hope is that we don’t have to segment out the Olympic Villages for the athletes. That’s their home away from home. It needs to be private. It needs to be allowed, for them to be free, and not have a focus on that.”
In typical conservative speak, Defrantz called on tradition. The Olympic athletes “express themselves as they have for centuries as they are as people and sharing the experience together and respecting one another. To me that’s what’s important — to keep it as it is and to not create more divisions.” Read into that as you will.
And then it came. “They’ve assured us that all of Sochi,” Defrantz proclaimed, “all of where the Games are, will not have this [law] into effect.”
“Anita, you don’t believe them?,” O’Donnell asked.
“I have to. I have to,” Defrantz replied.
O’Donnell challenged her: “No, you don’t. Why would you believe them?”
“Because they told us that Sochi will be free of the enforcement of these laws. So are we going to give them the chance?”
Why would we, when they’re literally allowing rape and violent anti-LGBT hate crimes to be perpetrated unpunished?