Russia Olympics update: Anti-gay laws to be enforced? IOC pissed or complicit?

Christof Koepsel

Reports are flooding in hourly from around the world about the latest developments regarding Russia's anti-gay law and the Winter Olympics

In all of this conversation about Russian anti-gay laws and the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, one thing is now clear: The topic isn't going away anytime soon. Since we published our first column almost seven weeks ago advocating against a boycott of the Winter Olympics, news seems to flood in now every day that changes the conversation.

One of the latest pieces features reports from Russia that the will, in fact, enforce their anti-gay laws during the Olympic Games, and that the IOC may do the same with athletes who use the Olympics as a political statement:

Russia to enforce anti-gay law during Olympics : Washington Blade – America's Leading Gay News Source
The Russian Interior Ministry on Monday said in a statement authorities will enforce a law that bans gay propaganda in Russia during the Sochi Olympics.

Olympic Committee Could Punish Athletes For Speaking Out Against Russian Anti-Gay Law | ThinkProgress
Facing pressure from LGBT activists and even President Obama, the IOC has announced that it intends to take action. Against any athlete who speaks out against the law during the Games.

Yet others are calling for athletes to do just that and risk punishment from the Russians and IOC:

Former NBA Player John Amaechi Calls On Sochi Olympians To 'Use Podium As A Soap Box'| Gay News | Towleroad
Amidst calls for boycotts, bans and a relocation of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, out former NBA player John Amaechi has written an open letter to Olympic athletes and National Olympic Committees urging them not to boycott and not to...

Schumer: Nations should wave rainbow flags for gay rights at Russia Olympics - The Hill's Video
Schumer opposed boycotting the games, saying let our athletes participate but still make a stand.

Entertainment industry kicks up storm over anti-gay laws in lead-up to Sochi Olympics - The Washington Post
LONDON — From Hollywood to Broadway, the entertainment industry is using its star power and financial muscle to raise a storm of protest over the anti-gay legislation in Russia that is battering the image of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Then there are these reports that showcase the IOC facing off with Russia and Russia saying there won't be any discrimination:

BBC News - Sochi Olympics: Russia says no discrimination for gay athletes
Russian officials say gay athletes will not face discrimination in the Sochi winter Olympic games, despite a controversial new law on gay propaganda.

Senior IOC member raises specter of taking Winter Olympics from Russia
A senior member of the International Olympic Committee just raised the specter of the IOC taking the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi away from Russia.

Whatever happens, the debate continues to rage:

France tells Russia of worry over anti-gay law - FRANCE 24
France's sports minister on Monday told her Russian counterpart that Paris was "worried" by the adoption of a law banning gay "propaganda" for minors that risks overshadowing the 2014 winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

Russian gay laws prompt ambassador demand | Irish Examiner
The Russian ambassador must be called in by Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore over an anti-gay clampdown in the country, ahead of next year’s winter Olympics, a leading Fine Gael TD has urged.

Editorial: No Patience for Bias; Russia Defiles the Olympic Spirit | Valley News
On NBC’s Tonight Show last Tuesday, Jay Leno asked President Obama about Russia’s law criminalizing "homosexual propaganda." Obama’s response was

West largely rejecting calls for Olympic boycott over Russia anti-gay law - latimes.com
US, Britain, Germany, prominent athletes rejecting calls for boycott of Sochi Olympic Winter Games to protest Russian anti-gay legislation

Winter Olympic boycott not the answer to Russian gay rights abuse, says PM - UK Politics - UK - The Independent
The Prime Minister has rejected a plea from the broadcaster Stephen Fry to boycott the Winter Olympics in Russia in protest over its treatment of gay people, claiming that "we can better challenge prejudice" by attending the event.

Russian MP delivers anti-gay rant after broadcaster calls for Olympic boycott - World - NZ Herald News
One of the architects of Russia's anti-gay laws has launched an attack on homosexuality and accused broadcaster Stephen Fry of being sick because of his attempt to commit suicide

Winning gay rights is the Olympic’s best prize - IOL Blogs | IOL.co.za
There is an island in the Shashi River that a man once declared for himself as an independent country. It’s a small island with a few big trees and some desperate shrubs. It is surrounded by the sands of the Shashi, which are dry for much of the year, plonked closer to the Botswana side of the river than the entrance to Zimbabwe.

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