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SBD Global/January 31, 2014/Olympics

Fifty-Two Olympians Urge Russia To Repeal 'Gay Propaganda' Laws

More than 50 current and former Olympians have called on the Russian authorities to reconsider recently introduced anti-gay laws that forbid "gay propaganda" aimed at under-18s and that have led to a wave of homophobic attacks, according to Gibson & Walker of the London GUARDIAN. Some of the 52 Olympians, with dozens of medals between them and including 12 Sochi competitors, have also criticized the IOC and multinational sponsors for not doing more to force Russian President Vladimir Putin's administration "to scale back the legislation." The so-called "principle six" campaign is named after the clause in the Olympic charter that "supposedly guarantees non-discrimination." U.S. football player Megan Rapinoe, who won Gold in London, said that "she believed the IOC should have done more and made it clear that this was not a political issue but a basic question of human rights" (GUARDIAN, 1/30). The BBC's David Bond wrote the U.K. government "is to give extra funding for gay rights campaigners in Russia amid growing concerns over the introduction of legislation outlawing the promotion of homosexuality." Culture Secretary Maria Miller said it was the "right thing to do." Additional money "will be given to protest groups such as Stonewall." Because of restrictions imposed by Russian law, "foreign governments cannot directly fund action groups and protesters on the ground in Russia." Instead "they must channel support" through int'l non-governmental organizations known as NGOs (BBC, 1/29).

SHOW OF SUPPORT: In Auckland, Adam Bennett wrote the New Zealand Parliament "has unanimously passed a motion in support of gay rights in Russia ahead of the Winter Olympics." Green MP Jan Logie moved that "the House wish our athletes competing in the Winter Olympics in Sochi well, and note Russia's recent passing of anti homosexual legislation, and ask the New Zealand Government to urge other governments and the Winter Olympics Organising Committee to protect the rights of all people in Russia regardless of their sexual orientation" (NZ HERALD, 1/30).
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Olympics, Russia

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