As we’ve been posting about here, the back and forth between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Russia’s government has been dizzying.
As it stands currently, not much has changed. IOC is telling the public that there’s nothing to worry about and that Olympians and fans will not be subject to their anti-gay law, while the Russian government in no uncertain terms is saying quite the opposite. Yesterday, the IOC seemed to begin conceding the fact that gay and lesbian athletes will indeed not be protected by their status as Olympians and what’s more – they will be punished by IOC if they DARE speak out and tell someone they’re gay.
As we’ve pointed out here, it’s clear that these draconian laws and the IOC’s implied support of them puts gay and lesbian athletes at a clear disadvantage. How well can a person perform when they’re worried constantly about hiding who they are? As we’ve seen with athletes who have come out, they always perform better with that weight being lifted from their shoulders. Here is the IOC demanding of gay & lesbian athletes that they carry that extra weight they’d left behind.
Today, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) jumped on the very popular bandwagon of asking Russia to clarify their anti-gay laws. You see, FIFA’s World Cup is scheduled to take place in Russia in 2018. The chair of that event, Alexey Sorokin has been quoted defending Russia’s law:
“It is designed against active propaganda of homosexuality, not against homosexuality itself. That is a big difference…Would you like a World Cup where naked people are running around displaying their homosexuality? The answer to that is quite obvious.”
The explanation that we are just somehow confusing what the law is about is ridiculous. No one is being arrested in Russia for running around naked, displaying their homosexuality. They are being arrested for making films about gay people in Russia, marching in a pride parade, and Russian police stand by and watch when gay people are beaten and killed.
There’s more to the story here though. Last year, FIFA announced that the 2022 World Cup will be held in Qatar, which goes a good deal further in banning homosexuality. Any homosexual acts are considered illegal in the Gulf nation and is punishable with prison time. When FIFA President Sepp Blatter was asked about Qatar’s anti-gay laws, he replied that gay soccer fans could just “refrain from any sexual activities” while there.
You have to wonder why FIFA is attempting to go after Russia on their laws but excusing Qatar for their own? Perhaps with all the attention focused on the Olympics, they’re hoping to share a little of that spotlight themselves.