Despite previous assurances from the International Olympic Committee, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said that athletes and spectators at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics could be arrested for violating Russia's anti-LGBT propaganda law.
"No one is forbidding an athlete with non-traditional sexual orientation from coming to Sochi, but if he goes onto the street and starts propagandizing it, then of course he will be held accountable," Mutko told Russian media outlet R-Sport.
Mutko's remarks come a week after the IOC released a statement saying it had been told by "the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games."
The law in question remains vague, perhaps intentionally so, making it difficult to tell where the line is between having a "non-traditional sexual orientation" and "propagandizing." With both Russian citizens and foreigners having been arrested under the law, some LGBT activists have mounted calls for a boycott of the Olympics. Others have focused on affecting the country's businesses by boycotting Russian vodka.
Both Mutko's comments and the IOC's come as Russia receives increased attention for some of its citizens' despicable actions against LGBT youth. Reports emerged last week that a Russian neo-Nazi group has allegedly been luring gay teens with personal ads, then bullying and torturing them. After recording the whole thing, the group posts video on the Internet to publicly shame the teens it has already abused. On that appalling news, the IOC has remained silent.
What's clear is that either Mutko or the IOC are mistaken -- or lying -- and that both Russian authorities and the Olympics head honchos need to get on the same page before February. (For that matter, so does NBC.)
Even clearer: International attention isn't swaying anyone in the Kremlin's decision-making. As attacks continue on LGBT teens, it's time for some entity to start applying more pressure.
As for news that's closer to home:
- Two gay pride flags were burned in a parking lot during the inaugural Pride event in a Canadian city Saturday night -- proving that despite recent focus on Russia, things are far from perfect nearby.
- Being unable to issue same-sex marriage licenses didn't stop Colorado from issuing its first gay divorce. Yes, it's sad for the people involved, but hey, it's still equality.
- U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley plans to introduce a resolution that will call on the IOC to oppose Russia's anti-gay laws, BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner reports. The language hasn't been finalized yet, and Merkley's spokesman didn't indicate whether it will also include a strong rebuke to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the country's government.
- OK, OK, something upbeat: A majority of Americans would vote for a nationwide law legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states, according to a new Gallup poll. Meanwhile, almost a third of Americans told Reuters they think the Supreme Court should rule on same-sex marriage across the nation.
- While we're talking about marriage, legal same-sex weddings began in Minnesota and Rhode Island on Thursday at midnight. Thirteen states now allow same-sex marriage. BuzzFeed's set of photos from Minneapolis' city hall is a perfect illustration of what that means to LGBT couples.
- Five openly gay nominees sailed through a Senate confirmation vote this week. Included in the group is John Berry, the first out ambassador to a G-20 country. G'day mate, indeed.
- And finally, in this week's "I can't even" news, American troops are under investigation for using Craigslist to set up discreet sexual encounters. Soliciting sex: Not chargeable under military code. But posting penis pics on public websites is. So word to the soldiers: If you're trying to arrange a hush-hush gay liaison, don't post a dirty photo you took while wearing fatigues. Come on!
So, what LGBT-related news have you been talking about this week?Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun