The International Olympic Committee (IOC) claims that Russia's repressive anti-LGBT law won't affect visitors at the Olympics.
But private assurances to the IOC by unnamed Russian officials aren't going to cut it when some government officials are saying the exact opposite - especially since the government has already launched a crackdown on its own LGBT citizens.
The IOC must speak out against the human rights abuses under way in Russia and get an explicit, written guarantee from Russian President Vladimir Putin that visitors to the Olympics will be safe.
We understand that the IOC has received assurances from some unnamed Russian officials that supporters of LGBT equality will be exempt from Russia’s new "anti-propaganda" law during the 2014 Winter Olympics.
However, within the past two days, two Russian officials have gone out of their way to contradict the IOC in no uncertain terms. As you know, it is completely unacceptable to wager the safety of equality supporters on private assurances of the Russian government. And, we know the IOC finds the safety of all Olympic athletes and visitors of paramount importance.
The "anti-propaganda" law is so obtuse that a person could be arrested in Russia for simply wearing a t-shirt promoting LGBT equality - something we are confident the IOC supports. This law is an abomination and poses a human rights imperative for all to speak out.
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Mere verbal assurances from these unnamed Russian government officials that foreigners will be exempt from their repressive laws are not enough. The IOC must obtain ironclad written assurance from President Putin. But more importantly, the IOC must advocate for the safety of all LGBT people in Russia, not simply those visiting for the Olympics. Rescinding this heinous law must be our collective goal.
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