Winter Olympics hits a firestorm
By Josh Martin, Sports Editor
Last week, Russia’s sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, announced a new law that bans “gay propaganda” in the streets of the largest country in the world. While the law’s wording is noticeably ambiguous, the general implication is that there will be consequences for anyone who publicly advocates homosexuality. These consequences include fines up to $3,000, imprisonment for up to 15 days, and even deportation.
With the 2014 Winter Olympics around the corner, participating countries are wondering if homosexual athletes still be allowed to participate and what kinds of actions will be worthy enough of a penalty?
But the question on almost everybody’s minds is: seriously?
Homophobia stands to be one of the biggest issues in today’s society. Everyone has their own opinion on where they stand on the spectrum of tolerable and intolerable to same-sex orientation. Canada openly supports gay marriage while the United States remains divided, with only 13 states having legalized gay marriage. I could argue my support for gay-rights and say how bad homophobia is and how it should stop in the world, but what exactly will that prove? Everyone has an opinion and there are no wrong opinions.
When it comes to sports such as the Olympic Games, it marks a place where there is no hate. A grand event that brings athletes from all over the world together no matter what their race, gender, or sexual orientation may be. Countries that have been in wars come together for a two and a half week period of peace and compete against each other in all kinds of events.
By passing a law against homosexuality where you can be fined, imprisoned, or deported mere months before the Olympics, Russia is single-handedly embarrassing the rest of the world. The recent law has undoubtedly created havoc in North America, bringing in the notion of boycotting the 2014 Olympics altogether. BC’s NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert said that Canada’s federal government will have to consider if Canada will participate in the games if Russia doesn’t reverse the law. “Are they willing to send athletes into a country that would lock up our athletes if they were gay or lesbian, or even suspected of being gay or lesbian? Are they going to put Canadians in harm’s way by saying you can go to Russia to support your loved ones but you may end up in jail if you happen to be seen holding another person’s hand?”
A sad reality to see that discrimination has been brought to the world’s stage. If Russia doesn’t reverse its policy, it looks as though many athletes will not be participating in the games six months from now. The very games that these athletes have been dedicating and training their entire lives for. For them to boycott and skip out on everything they’ve been working towards sends a message world-wide: creating laws against homophobia and breeding hate into society is not okay.