Russian Runners’ “Protest Smooch”
A pair of Russian runners kissed each other on the medal stand at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) track championships in Moscow this week – defying their country’s hard line stance against “homosexual propaganda.”
Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firov puckered up in protest of an anti-gay law passed two months ago by Russia’s government. The law bans the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to individuals under the age of eighteen – and includes heavy fines for violators.
Ryzhova and Firov weren’t the only ones protesting the law. A Swedish high jumper painted her fingernails and toenails in rainbow-colored polish, while an American runner dedicated his medal to his homosexual friends in the United States.
Russia’s anti-gay measure is creating a major public relations headache for the country in advance of the 2014 Winter Olympic games – scheduled to be held next February in Sochi, a resort town located on the Black Sea. It’s also creating headaches for NBC, the network which will televise the games.
“We will address it if it becomes an issue,” an NBC executive said. “Right now, they have a law that is a law of their land. Governments across the world have different laws. As long as it doesn’t affect us or athletes, again, we acknowledge that exists but I don’t know what that’s going to mean for us or how we’re going to cover it.”
While this website objects to discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation, Russia’s law is indeed the “law of their land.” Of course if there is one law which trumps all others, it is the law of the marketplace.
Russia has invested more than $12 billion (most of it government money) to get Sochi ready for the worldwide stage – a flood of negative international publicity could severely curtail the return on that investment.
Gay activists aren’t boycotting the Sochi Olympics in protest of Russia’s laws, though. They believe they can accomplish more for their cause by displaying their pride on the medal stand in front of an international audience.
Which is a pretty smart strategy …