The two most popular TV channels in Russia have mocked LGBTQ athletes at the Tokyo Olympics, calling them “disgusting” and “perverts” and an “abomination,” the BBC reports. Especially singled out were gold medal diver Tom Daley, who is gay, and Laurel Hubbard, a weightlifter who is transgender.
The two channels are state-run, which lends credence to the idea that the views have the support of the Kremlin. From the BBC:
Extremely offensive language, some of which appears in this article, was used by the hosts and guests on talk shows aired by the country’s two most popular television channels.
Even though the Kremlin has tended to not publicly support anti-LGBT sentiment, it fits in with the state ideology of defending Russia’s “traditional values” against the West.
The state-run channels dedicated several of their talk shows to speak disparagingly about LGBT athletes at the Games, using words like “abomination” and “perversion”.
The International Olympic Committee said it is concerned about the anti-LGBTQ comments and is contacting the official Russian Olympics broadcaster, though it’s unclear if any action will be taken. “We welcome that Tokyo 2020 has embedded diversity and inclusion in the Olympic Games model,” the IOC said.
Russia is an Olympic pariah, officially banned from the Games for widespread state-sponsored doping, though individual athletes are competing under the Russian Olympic Committee banner.
Russia’s adoption of anti-gay laws on the eve of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi sparked widespread outcry and pointed to the difficulties LGBTQ people face there. The fact that there are 181 out LGBTQ Olympians sticks in the craw of homophobes in the Russian government and media because it ruins their narrative that LGBTQ people are somehow a danger and not an asset. More from the BBC:
The 26 July edition of the 60 Minutes program was especially rife with slurs.
One of the panelists, Alexei Zhuravlyov, who is a member of the Russian parliament, said he was “disgusted” by gay and transgender people.
“We stand opposed to all this smut and perversion, strongly opposed,” he told the show, pointing at the studio screen which showed Hubbard.
“We stand against this abomination,” he shouted. At one point, Zhuravlyov used an offensive Russian word to describe gay men.
The best way to combat this nasty propaganda is for more athletes to come out and to win medals. If we’re pissing off Russian state TV, that’s to the good.