Russia's Plans To Enforce "Anti-Gay" Law Will Cast Cloud Over 2014 Winter Olympics

By Marilee Gallagher

Regarding Russia’s new anti-gay law, look no further than the words of American tennis great John McEnroe for the perfect response: “you cannot be serious?”

When McEnroe famously uttered the words 32 years ago, he was on the court disputing a questionable call. Today, those words would be perfect to dispute of perhaps one of the most insensitive and intolerant laws to have been passed in the year 2013.

President Vladimir Putin passed the law, and it immediately drew heat and intense protests throughout the country. But now, it is back in the headlines because Sochi, Russia will be hosting the Winter Olympics in 2014, the one single sporting event that has always been about equality and unity through sport.

In fact, the Olympic Creed read:

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

This pretty much sums up the struggle of people embracing a homosexual lifestyle as well — the struggle being the fight for equal rights and the triumph just beginning to manifest in the legalization of gay marriage in several U.S. states, as well as DOMA being struck down in the U.S. Supreme Court.

So isn’t this law and any enforcement of it just going against the spirit of what the Olympics are all about?

In short, yes, but it is too late for the IOC to move the Winter Games and at this point, it seems unlikely that any sort of mass protest is going to occur. Some groups have encouraged boycotts but ultimately, Russia’s law is the law and unfortunately, nothing suggests that it will change.

As the law states, gay athletes are not prohibited from participating in the games and will not be shown any discrimination, but any sort of “propaganda” will be punished accordingly. To put it into some perspective, Russia prohibits gay pride parades and rallies, openly gay expressions through social media and does not want the youth to be so-called “corrupted” by the homosexual lifestyle.

It is incredibly wrong and insensitive, and has one wishing the IOC knew about this before the Olympics were awarded because there is no way that organization would have accepted the bid from a country that is so willing to practice intolerance.

For years, the LGBT community has been fighting exactly what Russia has put into law, and it has made tremendous strides.

In fact, the inaugural class of the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame was just inducted a few days ago. Considering that the class includes former Olympic greats like diver Greg Louganis and tennis star Billie Jean King, it is deplorable that one of the main storylines of the Winter Olympics is going to be focused around anti-gay sentiments.

Marilee Gallagher is a baseball writer for You can follow her on Twitter @MGallagher17 like her page on Facebook, or join her network on Google.

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