Russia draws fire over anti-gay laws ahead of Winter Olympics

Others are calling for the boycott of Russian vodka and other exports led by “It Gets Better” project founder Dan Savage.

The International Olympic Committee, the governing body that organizes the Summer and Winter Olympics, has repeatedly said that gay athletes and gay tourists will be safe during the games. But the Russian attitude on all things gay recently seems to contradict the IOC’s optimism.

It’s not about the athletes or the tourists. They will come and go over a relatively short period of time next year. When they’re gone, after the dust has settled and the media circus returns home, how Russia treats its LGBTQ activists is what matters. They’re no assurance from Russia that they will be safe or allowed to freely express themselves once the games are over.

So, what do we do?

It’s very unlikely that the IOC will award the upcoming Olympics to another country this late in the process. It’s equally as unlikely that Russia, under its current regime, will walk back on any of the anti-gay measures that have been put into place in recent years.

I’m all for a boycott. I’ve boycotted Rush Limbaugh and Walmart for years. The problem, though, is that while such boycotts can fill some of the feelings of misgiving on a personal level, they rarely make any real difference at the practical level.

Still, if enough of us refuse to participate in Russia’s anti-gay show, maybe they’ll take notice. And maybe, the next time the country bids for an international sporting tournament, it will be forced to answer for its treatment of its gay and lesbian citizens.


Top photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin (official photo)