Any protest of the anti-gay laws in Russia could be punishable by possible disqualification. The International Olympic Committee says it will not tolerate anyone using the event as a personal platform to voice displeasure with the law. An IOC spokesperson told MSN News that Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter states that the Olympics “are not a place for proactive protests or demonstrations.”
This is not stopping one athlete from moving forward with a gay protest at the WInter Olympics. American figure skater Johnny Weir has stated that he is willing to be arrested if it brings more attention to the law and causes people to rally against it. Gay Star News reported that the IOC has said that they will punish protestors, but the punishments have not been specified.
An Associated Press report states that no one has gone to court for taking part in any protests thus far. Dutch filmmakers who were filming a documentary about gay rights were fined and forced to leave the country. Six LGBT activists were arrested after protesting with a banner in front of a childrens’ library. They are being held awaiting trial.
Rule 50 offers some potential punishments though. It states that violations of the law may “result in disqualifications or withdrawal of the accreditation of the person concerned.” The IOC has said they will take a “sensible approach” and view each case on its individual merits. The law is expected to be suspended during the Winter Olympics.
The idea of gay protests at the Winter Olympics has been met with mixed reactions. President Barack Obama has said that protests would be “unnecessary.” British actor Stephen Fry has been very active in bringing attention to the law as well. Various bars have also boycotted Russian vodka brands.
Should the athletes risk infamy and being ejected from the Winter Olympics? Or should Weir and many others stand up regardless of the consequences?