Sochi 2014, anti-gay legislation, and NBC

Sochi 2014

A dark shadow has been cast over the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Making reference to Russia’s anti-gay legislation, an e-mail I received this morning questioned NBC’s coverage of the Sochi Games.  Designed to “protect children” from information that rejects “traditional family values,” the “Family Values Bill” bans propaganda of “nontraditional sexual relations.” Russia’s proposed law overwhelmingly passed the Lower House of Parliament with a vote of 436-0.  President Vladimir Putin signed the bill into law at the end of June (just weeks after he signed a law classifying homosexual propaganda as pornography).

Read Harvey Fierstein’s Op-Ed, “Russia’s Anti-Gay Crackdown” from the New York Times

Vladimir Putin, Russian President
Vladimir Putin, Russian President

Under “Family Values,” providing information about the LGBT community to minors, hosting gay pride events, or equating heterosexual and homosexual relationships are punishable offenses and carry fines of up to $156 per individual or $31,000 per media organization. Worse yet, the controversial law isn’t limited to Russians.  Fear for Olympic athletes, family members, trainers, reporters, and spectators who are gay, or who are “suspected” of being gay or pro-gay is rising.  “Family Values” allows authorities to detain and imprison foreign nationals or tourists for up to 14 days.

First Foreign Detainees: Four Dutch Nationals

“Family Values” doesn’t stop there.  On July 3, Putin signed a law banning the adoption of Russian orphans to gay or lesbian couples and to any foreign nation where marriage equality is recognized in any form (ex. United States, France).  It’s believed that Putin is also behind an edict that would allow authorities to remove children from adoptive or biological homes where parents are, or are suspected of being, gay or lesbian.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, has urged NBC to bring these unjust laws to light during their televised broadcasts of the Winter Games.

Read Chad Griffin’s letter to NBC

NBC responded:

“NBC Universal strongly supports equal rights and the fair treatment for all people.  The spirit of the Olympic Games is about unifying people and countries through the celebration of sport and it is our hope that spirit will prevail.”

Whether or not hope and spirit will prevail over fresh Russian law remains to be seen.  In the meantime, here’s what YOU can do: 

1. – Add your name to the petition to Stand Against Russia’s Brutal Crackdown on Gays

2. Contact NBC: or @nbc on twitter

3. Contact President Barack Obama and voice your concerns – send a letter or @BarackObama on twitter

4. Stand with Human Rights Campaign and send an accompanying e-mail with your donation.

5. Boycott Russian Vodka – ex. brands:  Stoli, Zyr, Russian Diamond, Cristall, Ivan the Terrible, Ruskova, Imperia, Czar’s Gold, Ikon, RU Classic, Kalashnikov, Diplomat, Moskovskya, etc.

6. Boycott Sochi 2014 broadcasts unless NBC agrees to bring Russia’s social injustices to light, to mass audiences.

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