LGBT travel warning ahead of Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics
The US State Department released a travel alert for Americans planning to go to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The alert included a specific warning for LGBT Americans discouraging them from going to the Games.
Russia has set its reputation as a highly homophobic country, and thanks to the infamous 'gay-propaganda' law Russian authorities have now the right to jail, fine and deport any foreign citizen that openly supports LGBT right or, god forbid, demonstrate affection in public.
The law, which was signed by Vladimir Putin himself in June, is highly controversial nor only in content, but also in its form: it does define in clear terms what exactly constitutes 'LGBT propaganda’, thus allowing for a rather broad interpretation, which make things even shakier.The State Department travel alert therefore warns US citizens, and especially LGBT Americans, not to take any risks, because there are no clear boundaries of what will be interpreted as 'promoting LGBT equality in public', which is a crime.
The new law also starkly disregards the Olympic Charter and the peacekeeping spirit of the Games which, by now, many people regret have to be held in such circumstances.
As a form of quite protest, neither any high ranked Americans diplomats nor any member of the Presidential family will attend the Games this year.
On the other hand though, three openly gay athletes have been included in the US delegation to the Olympics, including tennis legend Billie Jean King who expressed concerns and called for all US athletes to steer clear of openly political stands or gestures during the Games.However, the choice of sending LGBT delegates to Sochi was criticised by Mario Pescante, Italian member of the International Olympic Committee (ICO) who supervised the 2006 Winter Games in Turin. Pescante told Italian media yesterday that he considered the gesture 'absurd' and that the Olympic games should not used as an arena to promote human rights or politically challenge the host country.