One of the questions that comes up a lot among members of the LGBT community and its allies is: What can people do to show their support for LGBT Russians and their distaste for how the International Olympic Committee and the main Olympic sponsors have handled the issue?
Today’s Prairie Dog notes that Russian LGBT organizations do NOT support a boycott of the Games. But there are things you and I can do to show our support.
Wear Our Principle on our Sleeves
Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter currently states: “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender of otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic movement.” The International Olympic Committee claims that this principle already includes sexual orientation, but has done little to guarantee the right of athletes and spectators to speak freely in Sochi.
In response, two LGBT organizations—All Out and Athlete Ally—have partnered with American Apparel to produce a line of clothing based on Principle 6. A group of activists, current Olympians, and past Olympians has endorsed Principle 6, and will be sporting logos on their clothing during the Games.
Since Principle 6 does not specifically mention gay or lesbian people, it will not technically violate the Russian law.
Net proceeds from the clothing will be used to support Russian LGBT organizations.
Boycott the Sponsors, Not the Games
Michele Tyndall is a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Community of Regina (GLCR), which operates the Q Nightclub on Broad Street and the community centre in the same building. She says that people should boycott the products of companies that are either endorsing the Olympics or the policies currently affecting the Russian LGBTQ community. The GLCR has already removed all products produced in Russia from their menu.
Tyndall believes that such campaigns can, over time, have a powerful impact. “One of the biggest actions the community took was the Coors boycott in the late seventies in response to the brewery’s antigay practices. As a result, Coors now has some of the strongest GLBTQ protections for its employees and supports GLBTQ rights across North America.”
Many groups have already had great fun with online campaigns rebranding sponors like Coke as haters. It’s turned into a bit of a public relations nightmare for some of them, but no one can say they weren’t warned about the consequences of turning a blind eye.
The largest sponsors of the Sochi Olympics are Coca-Cola, Atos, Dow, General Electric, McDonalds, Omega, Panasonic, Proctor and Gamble, Samsung and Visa.
Donate to Human Rights Groups like #loveconquershate
Tyndall noted that there is currently a poster campaign in Regina to support and raise funds for the Human Rights Campaign#loveconquershate for GLBTQ rights in Russia. There was also a drag show on January 25th hosted by Regina’s drag Entertainers of the year to raise funds for the same group. For more information on the Russian Freedom Fund, visit www.loveconquershate.org.
Support the Pride House International Campaign
The 2010 Vancouver Olympics included a Pride House in the Olympic Village, which provided a venue for LGBT athletes, spectators and supporters to come together. Unfortunately, Russia has denied the request to host a Pride House during the Games in Sochi, and so far, no country including Canada has taken up the suggestion to host Pride Houses in their respective national hospitality houses. In response, many communities around the world are hosting Remote Pride Houses, including Toronto, Montreal and Waterloo. Unfortunately, no Remote Pride House has been announced in Regina or any other Saskatchewan community.