Russia: Too Little Too Late

by Lucas Witherspoon

By now, every civilized nation in the Western world is aware of Russia’s unspeakably prejudicial “anti-homosexual propaganda” law, which essentially allows anyone who’s even so much as suspected of being gay or supports human equality to be legally prosecuted and punished. Aside from the legal ramifications, though, comes the broader consequences of a law that espouses LGBT persecution. While the Russian government obviously cannot reasonably expect to punish every person suspected of being gay or those who sympathize with them, the rhetoric it establishes socially is immeasurably more detrimental than the illegality it establishes.

With that being said, Russia happens to be the sight of the Winter Olympics next year. About a week ago, Russian Sports Minister, Vitaly Mutko, made it clear that Russia’s staunchly inequitable anti-gay laws would be inflicted upon any athletes or fans who dared defy them. Cut to a week later, when Igor Ananskikh, the head of the Russian Duma Committee, said this:

“The Olympics is a major international event. Our task is to be as politically correct and tolerant as we can be. That’s why we made the decision not to raise this issue during the Games.”

Russia has already sunk tens of billions of dollars into the Winter Olympics (mind you, a majority of the Russian population still falls below the poverty line), so a bit of damage control was inevitably necessary. Eventually Mutko retracted his initial statements, but even if Mutko hadn’t reiterated Russia’s societal ignorance, the damage has been done. Olympic athletes and the floods of gay people who will undoubtedly flock to the Russian Winter Olympics still face insurmountable harm, albeit secondhand ruination.

The International Olympic Committee doesn’t seem to fold easily based on international protests and outcries, but the fact of the matter is, the disgrace isn’t primarily theirs to own; instead, it’s a humanitarian duty to protect not only international athletes, but also spectators. At the very least, we owe it to the minute amount of people who will actually attend these sporting events, but more so to humanity.