Julia Bereciartu–Anna Goddson Agency
Who not to Love in Russia
By the Light of the Olympic Flame
LGBTIQ people in Russia and their supporters face significant pressure and persecution on a daily basis. LGBTIQ students are often subjected to extreme physical and emotional bullying and harassment, and they do not have the option to seek help and support from teachers or authorities. In some cases, doing so could lead to more abuse.
‘The Olympic flame can throw light on the human rights violations that the authorities would prefer to hide behind the celebratory decorations’ - said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.
Last year, Russian president Vladimir Putin further increased the pressure on the LGBTIQ community by signing a law against ’propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations’ among children. The law effectively restricted activists’ and individuals’ rights to freedom of expression. People found to have violated the law face extortionate fines and foreigners may face jail time and deportation.
The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics placed an international spotlight on Russia, especially the human rights situation. National and international activists have used the media attention to highlight the systematic abuse of the LGBTIQ community in Russia. LGBTIQ people in Russia have welcomed the spotlight on the country and their battle for human rights, but they worry about what their future will be like once the Sochi flame is extinguished. It is not only the LGBTIQ community that fears a backlash once the international spotlight moves away from Sochi. Journalists and activists fear retaliation against those criticising the authorities before and during the games.
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