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article imageCanadians asking Olympics Committee to boycott Russia Special

By Dinh Nguyen     Jul 26, 2013 in World
Following the persecution of homosexuals in Russia, thousands of people worldwide have banded together to protest, each in their own ways. In Canada, a petition to its Olympics Committee to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, has come out.
The petition which is still in its infancy has slowly gained traction. Created on July 24, by David O’Garr of Hamilton, Ontario, the petition had 240 signatures by 7:30 p.m. the following day.
Since the Russian anti-gay propaganda law controversy, many have made petitions asking their country’s Olympics committees to boycott the upcoming Winter Olympics. 1412 people have signed the U.S. version of the petition thus far. It was only a matter of time for Canada.
“I chose to create this petition because it’s been weighing on my conscious for a while now,” said O’Garr. “To be honest I was waiting for someone else to step up to the plate, but I couldn’t wait any longer. The Winter Olympics are less than a year away; we need to start talking about this now.”
The Anti-gay propaganda bill that was signed into law by Russian President, Vladimir Putin on June 30, prohibits queer pride marches and public display of homosexuality among other things. Under the same law, Putin has also signed another bill allowing police to arrest tourists who are believed to be homosexual. Much violence against homosexuals and allies in public has also occurred in Russia. (Click here to see photos compiled by BuzzFeed). This has helped spark more projects against the Russian anti-gay situation.
Among some initatives, members of the queer community and allies are boycotting Russian Vodka, according to The Atlantic Wire. In Canada, Toronto’s Wayla Bar no longer serves Russian Spirits. To show support for the movement, they are no longer carrying Vodka or Brandy. There is also a petition urging companies: Coca-Cola, Panasonic, VISA, Samsung, and Procter&Gamble to pull their sponsorship from the Olympics.
O’Garr believes that while many people worldwide are doing what they can for the progression of gay rights, Canadians have an opportunity to make a difference:
“There is no doubt about it, Canada is a big contender in [the Olympics], could you imagine the impact it would have?” He said. “Canada has always been a leader in human rights, especially gay rights. If we take this stand, I think a lot of others would [follow] our lead. What would the Olympics be without Canada? If we can all stand together on this, and stand with the LGBTIQ citizens of Russia to publically say we support them […] this boycott will have a huge impact.”
Since the Olympics is an international event many see it as a tool that can be used to put pressure on the Russian government over the anti-gay controversy. However, there are those who strongly condemn what Putin is doing, but do not feel that using the Olympics is the right course of action.
“The Olympics are about coming together despite differences; it is about showing that we have more in common than we are different,” said American citizen and English teacher, Edward Morgan. “Punishing Russia, and people and countries like them, for their positions on homosexuality will only harden them further. A more effective way to fight for LGBT rights internationally would be to highlight the success of LGBT athletes at the Olympic Games.”
Morgan belives that exposure to homosexuality can make a positive impact, as it might make people more accepting of it. While exposure and using the Olympics are not mutually exclusive tactics, some believe that different types of exposure can be ineffective.
“ I have seen other ideas, about [gay]athletes going [to the Olympics] and everyone [wearing] rainbow pins in support of the LGBTIQ community. To be honest, I think it’s cute,” said O'Garr. “But I think that exposure will ultimately be ineffective. I highly doubt that Russia will risk an international incident by arresting all of these athletes so they will let it go on. Then as soon as the games are gone, the witch hunt continues, and the LGBTIQ community is still in harm’s way."
Click to see the American and Canadian petition.
More about Russia Gay rights, Queer rights, Lgbtq, gay propaganda laws, Russia
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