This past weekend in light of the official passing of the Olympic torch to Russia, Amnesty International partnered with GO! Athletes to rally in support of LGBT athletes and Russian citizens. Local high school students, local collegiate athletes and students, and Bay Area residents gathered on the steps of San Francisco City Hall on Sunday to demand LGBT rights at the Olympic games in Sochi.
Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, spoke on behalf of the LGBT community who are affected by Russia's anti-LGBT laws.
"I stand in solidarity with the LGBT community, athletes and activists, to denounce Russia's new anti-gay laws that are designed to promote the continued discrimination against Russian citizens and international visitors based solely on sexual orientation and gender identity," said Leno.
Leno's statement echoes Amnesty International's mission that "regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity - everyone enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights". As Russia's law stands now it is illegal to distribute propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors which includes discussing gay rights and relationships anywhere children might hear it. Those found violating this law can be fined and, if they are foreign, deported.
CNN states that the law is so vague that even someone who is wearing a rainbow pin or holding hands with someone of the same sex can be prosecuted. The only thing that is clear is that globally we need athletes like Bode Miller who railed against Russia's LGBT laws on ESPN, to stand up to discrimination.
While our mock torch run through San Francisco was well received by our neighbors and greeted by supportive honks and cheers, our Olympic athletes may not be received the same way in Russia-and they deserve to be protected from Russia's draconian laws.