Are LGB* Olympic Athletes Safe in Russia?

With the 2014 Winter Olympics approaching in Russia, along with the fact that Russia has passed anti-gay laws, the subject of safety for LGB* individuals at the Russian Olympics has come up many times. These laws, which carry hefty fines for any person or organization that makes youth in Russia believe that being homosexual is “socially equivalent” to being heterosexual, were passed in June of this year. Athletes have expressed concerns about attending the Olympics due to these laws, worried that they will be persecuted for their sexuality like the Russian citizens are.

John Iadarola talks about how the Russian government has expressed that any lesbian, gay, or bisexual athletes will not be persecuted or prosecuted during the 2014 Winter Olympics. This is a relief for many–but the laws are still there, and the impact of them has not lessened. Iadarola explains that, while America has its problems with marriage equality, Russia is certainly a few steps behind, and that’s putting it lightly.

The most horrifying part is the fact that, according to an online poll, only 39% of Russian citizens believe in marriage equality. The fact that the majority of the country apparently doesn’t think that homosexuality is socially equivalent to heterosexuality does not give me very much hope for the idea that the law will be repealed. While it’s great that LGB* athletes will not be persecuted for their sexualities, the fact is that these athletes still most likely will have to worry for their safety while they are in Russia, as 15% of LGB* Russians have reported they have been recently physically attacked for their sexuality.

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