Susan Cottrell of Austin, Texas, is a reformed Evangelical Christian. When one of her daughters came out as a lesbian and another came out as bisexual, she and her husband, Robert, knew that their love for them was stronger than any church teaching them to "love the sinner, hate the sin."
Susan runs a blog at www.freedhearts.com where she writes about her experiences and tries to help other parents who find conflict with their Christian beliefs and that of accepting LGBTQ people.
Despite international media scrutiny and criticism from foreign heads of state and hundreds of thousands of activists around the world, Russian officials won’t back down from the country’s controversial law banning gay “propaganda” — prompting calls for boycotts of everything from the 2014 Winter Olympics to vodkas associated with Russia.
Passed unanimously by Parliament and signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 30, the law is aimed at protecting minors from “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” and is so vague critics fear it could criminalize simply being openly gay or expressing any support for LGBT equality.
The propaganda law, part of a rising tide of homophobia in Russia (see sidebar, “Russia’s attack on LGBT rights”), includes a clause specifically related to foreigners, who could face fines, 15 days of detainment and deportation. The clause raises questions about the impact on thousands of foreign athletes, staffers, media and fans expected to attend the upcoming Olympics, set for Feb. 7-23 in Sochi, Russia.
In June, when Russia’s government passed an anti-gay “propaganda” bill that was quickly signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, LGBT Americans reacted with fury.
Many jumped to action by organizing petitions to boycott or move the Olympics. Dan Savage, gay activist and columnist for the Seattle Stranger, urged his readers and others to boycott one of Russia’s leading exports — vodka, specifically Stolichnaya vodka.
“[T]here is something we can do right here, right now, in Seattle and other US cities to show our solidarity with Russian queers and their allies and to help to draw international attention to the persecution of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, trans people, and straight allies in Putin’s increasingly fascistic Russia: DUMP RUSSIAN VODKA,” Savage wrote in his July 24 column.
Anti-gay laws spark debate over Olympic boycott
Outspoken LGBT rights ally John Lewis is the only member of Congress from Georgia to sign a letter calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to ensure the safety of LGBT Americans attending the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
"We are writing to you regarding the troubling implications of a recently-enacted Russian law criminalizing actions or statements deemed to be in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community," states the letter, led by U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and signed by 83 members of Congress including Lewis (D-Ga.).
U.S. Rep. John Lewis joins concern over Russia's anti-gay laws
Several Atlanta gay bars are dumping Stolichnaya as a way to protest the inhumane treatment of LGBT people in Russia, where this brand of vodka originated.
On June 15, Robby Kelley, co-owner of the Atlanta Eagle, announced his bar would stop serving the popular vodka and any other Russian booze.
"I know Stoli is not made in Russia but profits made from it goes there. The Atlanta Eagle will no longer carry these vodkas. When we are out, we are out. I'm a small bar but [feel] like [it's] my job [not] to support vodka or [products] from a country that just removed the rights of the lgbt community for the next 100 years," he said.
To boycott, or not to boycott, that is the question.
All Out, a global gay rights group launched in 2010, and Athlete Ally, a U.S.-based organization that promotes LGBT inclusion in sports, released a joint statement today, calling on a political solution rather than a boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, over the country's anti-gay agenda.
A flurry of online petitions calling for a complete boycott of the games, its corporate sponsors and even NBC have cropped up recently. Some gay bars have even started their own boycott of Russian vodka.
But All Out Executive Director Andre Banks said today that a boycott of the games to protest Russia's anti-gay laws was not the most prudent way to send a message to Russian politicians.
Gay rights activists across the globe have called on the international community to boycott the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, over the country's continued crackdown on gay rights activists and LGBTQ tourists.
Already, online petition creators have amassed thousands of digital signatures calling for a complete boycott of the upcoming games.
One such petition, currently on Change.org, has amassed some 20,000 signatures.
RUSA LGBT, an LGBTQ advocacy organization made up of Russian speakers, is leading the call for a boycott of the games. Its message is pretty simple: Do not support Sochi.
While gay and lesbian Americans are anxiously awaiting a pair of U.S. Supreme Court rulings that could see the biggest advancement of LGBT rights in American history, Russia is taking a decidedly different path.
Russia's lower house of Parliament today passed a law banning gay “propaganda,” which is being called an unnecessary overreach by international gay rights activists. The vote was 436 to 0 with one abstention while some 20 activists were arrested earlier today during protests against the legislation.
According to news outlet Russia Today, the current version of the law “describes the propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations as 'spreading the information in order to form non-traditional sexual desires in children, describing such relations as attractive, promoting the distorted understanding of social equality of traditional and non-traditional relations and also unwanted solicitation of information that could provoke interest to such relations.'”