Senator asks for assurance that Gay Olympic Athletes & fans will be safe at Sochi 2014 Winter Games in Russia
By Brody Levesque | WASHINGTON -- Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey, (D) sent a letter to the Russian Ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, earlier this week asking for assurances that LGBT American athletes and fans attending the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi Russia, will be safe.
Markey's formal request follows growing international controversy and outrage over the law signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in June that bans public discussion of LGBT subjects around 'minor children' which has also been widely interpreted to include public displays of affection between adults along with 'Pride' type protests and events.
“I am especially concerned with the provision of the law that allows for the possible detention of foreign citizens for up to 14 days before they would be expelled from the country,” said Markey, in the letter to Kislyak.
“Many members of international athletic delegations, their families, spectators, and support staff proudly identify as members of the LGBT community. I believe it is essential for them to both feel and be safe from arrest, detention, and other forms of discrimination while in Russia,” he added.
When contacted by LGBTQ Nation, the embassy acknowledged receipt of the letter but a spokesperson declined further comment.
U.S. LGBT activists are calling for a boycott of all things Russian, with the leading boycott aimed at Latvian Distiller Latvijas Balzams, who manufactures the Stolichnaya brand vodka, which has Russian roots and is marketed as such, but, as the company is now arguing stands “strong & proud” with the global gay community “against the attitude & actions of the Russian government.”
Latvijas Balzams spokeswoman Dana Hasana said Friday that SPI is “continuing a dialogue with the (gay and lesbian) community” to dispel confusion about the origin of Stolichnaya vodka.
LGBT equality rights activists are also calling for a boycott aimed at sponsors of the International Olympic Committee, asking Olympic sponsors to withdraw their support of the Winter Games.
According to Russian Media Outlet RIA Novosti, Olympic corporate sponsors were largely silent on the issue Thursday when contacted:
“The Coca-Cola Company does not take positions on political matters unrelated to our business. Our Global Mutual Respect Policy sets out our expectations for how our associates should treat one another and everyone they interact with on behalf of the company.
We do not condone intolerance of any kind,” Coca-Cola said in a statement to RIA Novosti.
“We have no comment at this time,” said a Visa spokesman. McDonald’s did not provide a comment, other sponsors including Procter & Gamble, Samsung, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers and Panasonic did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Russian officals have publicly stated that LGBT athletes won’t be exempt from arrest during the Winter Olympics in Sochi under the country’s anti-gay law with the most recent statement from Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who warned that gay athletes who speak out about homosexuality would be arrested and prosecuted, a position confirmed Friday to LGBTQ Nation by the chairman of the Russian Parliament's Committee on Physical Culture, Sport and Youth Affairs, Igor Ananskikh.