Homophobic Russian policies at Winter Olympics negatively impact gay athletes

Homophobic Russian policies at Winter Olympics negatively impact gay athletes

Photo courtesy of Google Images

Sami Delavari - Staff Writer

“The Olympics shouldn’t be held in countries that don’t uphold the Olympic spirit.  The honor of hosting the Games should go to countries with an established track record of respecting human rights.” –Wes Adams, chief operating officer of All Out

As the Olympic Games approach, athletes are preparing to prove their worth in the sports they love.  The Russian government officials have made clear that they do not approve of gay athletes, even asking them to stay away from children as a “precaution.”  Working hard toward the goal of winning a gold medal at the Sochi, Russia Winter Olympics, many athletes are also facing inner stress and fear of retaliation due to the country’s anti-gay laws.  In addition, gay athletes must hide their true selves because of the anti-gay oppression that is evident in Sochi.  These discriminatory laws digress social progress, since other countries are modernizing and granting more rights to members of the gay community.

Many people who live in Russia do not share the modern beliefs that many Americans do when involving gay athletes. There is a chance that if locals find out that an athlete is gay, the athlete may be attacked because of some people not accepting his or her lifestyle.  The participating athletes should be able to focus on their sports without the extra stress of not feeling accepted by both the Russian government and its audience members.  The athletes should not be judged on their sexuality, but solely on their refined skills that they have been perfecting for years.

“When it comes to the Olympics and athletic performance, we do not make distinctions on the basis of sexual orientation,” said President Barack Obama during a White House news conference.  “And that is a value that I think is at the heart of not just America, but American sports.”

The gay athletes who are competing in the Winter Olympics are unable to be themselves because of the harsh anti-gay laws in Russia.  These laws are unfair to athletes who deserve the right to express themselves and not have to monitor their speech and actions.  The Russian law says that it is illegal to talk about homosexuality in front of minors, which may lead to arrests in the crowds as well.

“It is not fair that athletes are being judged by whom they choose to love,” said junior Brianna Wenger.  “People should focus on how skilled the athletes are in the sports rather than worrying about their sexuality.”

Most countries are modernizing and accepting that people are entitled to be with whomever they love.  Russia was previously one of these modernized countries until Vladimir Putin came to power, halting progressive values involving homosexuality.  Full societal and governmental protection is guaranteed in most countries, and Russia is refusing to recognize these changing times.  If Russia continues these discriminatory practices, the outcome will be detrimental to the country’s development and power.

Equality in the Olympics is a necessity, because every athlete has worked extremely hard to reach advanced levels in his or her sport.  These laws are unfair to athletes who are being discriminated against because of their sexuality.  They are entitled to the same treatment as other athletes.  For the upcoming Winter Olympics, athletes will be competing not only for gold medals but for equal rights as well.