In the coming weeks, the United Nations (UN) will vote on the adoption of the most recent Olympic Truce, according to a recent New York Times article entitled “Russia Is Persuaded to Alter Statement to Call for Inclusion.”
The Olympic Truce is a resolution selected by the UN every two years to ensure inclusion and peace at the Olympic games.
This year, the Truce for the Winter Olympics, being held in Sochi, Russia, was written by the Russian government.
The writing and adoption of the Truce usually goes smoothly, but not this year.
According to the same New York Times article, Russia had to be persuaded to amend the Olympic Truce to include protection for gays and transgenders.
The rough draft of the Truce stated a promise to include “people of different age, sex, physical capacity, religion, race and social status.”
However, there was no reference to gay or transgender people. This was especially conspicuous given the recent laws against homosexuals that were passed in Russia this summer.
One such law that I found particularly ridiculous made “homosexual propaganda” (or anything having to do with homosexuality) equivalent to pornography.
When I read about the seemingly anti-gay laws during the summer, I immediately thought of the Winter Olympics. At the time it looked like anyone who was gay, or even looked like they might be gay, couldn’t visit Russia without fear of being arrested.
The Olympics has always seemed like the epitome of peace and international cooperation. It had never dawned on me that a group of people could be denied participation in the games.
Therefore, when I heard about the possible exclusion of homosexuals, I was appalled. It seemed so ludicrous!
Now that Russia has altered the Truce to “promote social inclusion without discrimination of any kind” my fears have been slightly assuaged.
But although the Russian government has now promised to include (or at least not not include them), the situation still seems rather unresolved.
What happens when the games are over, when things go back to normal?
When tourists visit Russia, they won’t be wondering where to get the best vodka. Instead they’ll be asking themselves if they look “gay enough” to be arrested.
Nonetheless, I can’t see a way to remedy this situation without making things much, much worse.
While I certainly do not support such laws, now doesn’t seem like the right time to be telling Russia what to do or threatening their government.
What with the Russian ban on American adoptions and the problems in Syria (a Russian ally), there are too many policies that need changing at once.
For now, the issues in Syria should take precedence and then, once the Winter Olympics are over, maybe a time to talk about prosecution based on sexuality will come. At that point, we can try to gain equality for Americans visiting Russia.