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Should the U.S. boycott next year's Olympics?
September 23, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
Should the United States boycott the Olympic games in Russia next year because of Russia's anti-gay laws?
There seems to be some talk about a potential boycott, though others say that a protest at the Olympics itself might be more effective. Russia has passed laws banning the so-called promotion of homosexuality to minors. The law is vague and likely could result in the arrest of someone who held up a sign saying "Homosexuality is normal" at a protest rally. A number of gays and lesbians in Russia have been fired from their jobs and others are now afraid to speak out in public.
Russia has banned the adoption of Russian children by people from countries where gay marriage is legal. One bill under discussion there would remove children from the custody of gay and lesbian parents in Russia. According to Alternet, the number of hate attacks by skinheads and others against gays in Russia have also increased. Gay Russian journalist Masha Gessen, quoted in a story by Adam Lee at Alternet, called on the United States to offer gay Russians political asylum.
Lee also reports disapprovingly on the number of Americans from conservative Christian groups who have expressed approval of Russia's laws. Apparently some evangelicals and conservative Catholics think it sounds like a good idea to force gays to the very back of the closet and avoid public discussion of gay rights.
As a journalist and as an American, I will always back the side of freedom of speech and freedom of expression, neither of which Russia exemplifies. There are some aspects of gay culture that I don't necessarily like or approve of – you won't find me at one of the more flamboyant gay pride parades, for example, or cheering on promiscuity by either gays or straights – but I don't have to attend a gay pride parade or approve of anyone's behavior any more than they approve of mine. In a free society, people are free to live and express themselves in the ways that they choose. I am disturbed by people who would be in favor of such restrictive laws.
But does it warrant a boycott of the Olympics, which would punish athletes who have been training their whole lives for their one moment of glory? I'm not sure that it would do any good.
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