Russian govt. using Olympic logo to gay-bash, IOC refuses to step in

The Russian government is now officially using the Olympic logo, the famous five rings, as a stamp of approval for its official gay-bashing, and the International Olympic Committee isn’t terribly interested.

We’d reported the other day that as part of their growing war against gay people and other minorities, the Russian government was now wiretapping gay rights advocates, and foreign human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and America’s Human Rights Campaign.

What we didn’t know at the time was that the Russian government was using the Olympic rings to validate their ongoing dehumanization of gay and trans people in the country.

From Reporters with Borders

From Reporters with Borders

J. Lester Feder of BuzzFeed reported last night that while Russian state television, Russia 1, was airing its breathless announcement that the government had wiretapped “foreign homosexualists” trying to take over Mother Russia, they put the Olympic logo on the screen the entire time.

The Russians are hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics in the town of Sochi.  That is, assuming they ever get any snow, and that the Russians actually finishing building the Olympic village.

15 year old gay Russian boy kidnapped, and tortured, by anti-gay vigilantes that the Russian government refused to arrest.

15 year old gay Russian boy kidnapped, and tortured, by anti-gay vigilantes that the Russian government refused to arrest.

For several years now, but particularly in the last six months, Russian President Vladimir Putin has launched a war on minorities such as gay and trans people, and those deemed “too black” by the Russians (which is practically much anyone who isn’t blonde).   The unofficial pogrom has led to an increase in violence against gay, trans and people of color in the country, while the official police forces remain disinterested in prosecuting the criminals since the victims are people President Putin doesn’t like.  And in Russia, the rule of law, as it were, is based on the whim of the current autocrat.

The police forces are, however terribly interested in harassing minorities.

Russian vigilantes show off a young gay boy they claim to have abducted and then doused with urine after entrapping him via a gay social media site. Reports from Russia suggest the boy may now be dead.

Russian vigilantes show off a young gay boy they claim to have abducted and then doused with urine after entrapping him via a gay social media site. Reports from Russia suggest the boy may now be dead.

The increasingly violent climate against gay and trans people in the country has led the Anti-Defamation League to call for a new Jackson-Vanik amendment covering sexual orientation.

The, this past summer, Russia passed a nationwide “gay propaganda ban” that makes it basically illegal to be openly gay, but only to say or do anything that suggests that being gay might be okay.  In fact, a Russian newspaper is currently in trouble because it published a quote from a gay person in an article about the person being fired for being gay.  Even though the article was relatively critical of the gay person, the fact that the newspaper quoted the victim, and the victim was gay, is enough to trigger the anti-gay law.

Now, as you might recall the International Olympic Committee is downright evil about protecting its brand.  They came after the Gay Olympics, and even the Paralympics.  The Paralympics, for people with disabilities, had to even give up their logo years ago because it was deemed too close to the Olympic rings.

But when someone uses the actual Olympic rings to oppress millions of people, then it’s okay.  (Speaking of the IOC turning a blind eye towards associating its brand with fascism, 1936 comes to mind.)

Here’s what the International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesman had to say about the Russians using the Olympic logo to put a patina of approval on their human rights violations:

“We are not going to make further comment purely on the basis of a Russian TV show.”

Can’t you just feel the Olympic spirit?

(I’m told that in order to actually see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me – so say the experts.)

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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29 Responses to “Russian govt. using Olympic logo to gay-bash, IOC refuses to step in”

  1. Brandon Taylor says:

    Applause for you! :) I agree with everything you have said and will also be doing the same! I am sick and tired of these human rights violations which the Olympic Committee doesn’t seem to mind; in fact they are encouraging them by continuing with the games in light of the ridiculousness that is the russian government’s war on homosexuals, transgendered folks, and people of color. It is disgusting!!!

  2. RussiansThinkWithFrozenPotatos says:

    everyone please share this story with everyone you know. Their refusal to prevent their logo from being used in this manner is an endorsement of the anti-gay movement in Russia

  3. LanceThruster says:

    I agree, but people can change. They need to redirect their …energies somehow.

  4. frogview says:

    It is not the individual , but the culture that has developed from decades of having to stand in line for a day just for a loaf of bread to find out there is none.
    Race has nothing to do with culture.

  5. Zorba says:

    I have a friend who was born and raised in Russia, but came over here for graduate school, got a green card and a job here, and got his American citizenship.
    He is very well okay, Uncle Bucky. And in fact, when I asked him some years ago about Putin, who at the time was being hailed as a Russian savior, he said “Putin is a KGB thug.”
    Not all those of Russian extraction are not to be trusted. My Russian friend, in fact, is quite liberal and very unhappy about what is going on over there now.
    Having said that, I will say that the Sochi Olympics and their sponsors need to be boycotted in every way possible.
    But saying that you have to “take a step back” and check your pocketbook when being introduced to a Russian seems to me pretty much as racist, ethnicist, or whatever you want to call it, as stereotyping blacks, Hispanics, Jewish people, or anyone else who is “different” from you.

  6. UncleBucky says:

    Well, I agree with your stance with one exception.

    That if you DO find a person from Russian extraction (either whose family arrived here way before in the 19th century OR a person who just arrived) and they DO turn out to be OK and trustable and without blame, that you will celebrate that as much as you can.

    All right?

  7. UncleBucky says:

    No, I won’t watch Olympics.
    I will pay attention to who sponsors them and I will not buy their products.
    I will mock sponsors when I can to suggestable people.
    I will degrade anyone who supports the Olympics.

    Daylight this scum event.

  8. karmanot says:

    “Aren’t there any Russian females they can spend quality time with?” What self respecting Russian woman would spend time with that trash?

  9. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    I’ll bet if a Gay group tried to use the term “Gay Olympics” for a peaceful sporting events, they’d sue…Wait. They already did that. So the IOC is okay with anti-gays using their logo but not Gays. Great.

  10. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    Russia’s most prominent Gay club attacked by thugs, shot up. I believe this is the same club RT used as evidence that Gays aren’t really discriminated against so long as they keep it private and all.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Cheap labor through dubious means is all that matters.

  12. The_Fixer says:

    I wonder when countries, Russia included, will realize that the Olympics comes with a high price? I mean, in every country I can remember them being in, there are huge stadiums built at a high cost that are left behind to decay. That cost has to be especially excessive in Russia, a land known for graft and outright thievery.

    I think the IOC has been swindling these countries for a very long time, and the countries seem to enjoy the financial abuse in the name of a few temporary dollars and supposed prestige.

    I’ve never been terribly fond of the Olympics and never believed for a moment that they had any validity as some athletic competition that’s supposed to foster world peace. It is really nothing more than a way for some organizations and people, already rich, to make some more money.

    And further, I think it is really interesting that the TV station in question linked the Olympics to the pogrom against gay people. They’re kind of kicking their own ass, in a way. Now the Olympics in Sochi and the pogrom against LGBT people are linked in a way that they probably didn’t want. Just because they are a Russian TV station does not mean that this won’t be seen outside of Russia. There’s this Internet thing. Kind of helpful for anyone who is working against this, very stupid for their effort to downplay the violence against LGBT people.

    The IOC’s response was nothing more than saying “go away kid, ya bother me”. How insulting.

  13. ComradeRutherford says:

    The IOC approves of gay-bashing and discriminating against gays. That’s why they gave this round of the olympics to Russia.

  14. cleos_mom says:

    “But when someone uses the actual Olympic rings to oppress millions of people, then it’s okay. (Speaking of the IOC turning a blind eye towards associating its brand with fascism, 1936 comes to mind.)”

    Expecting the IOC to *not* turn a blind eye toward any kind of fascism is like expecting somebody to twerk without wiggling their behind.

  15. caphillprof says:

    My understanding is that the Russians are themselves strangers along the Volga

  16. emjayay says:

    It’s totally unfair to bring that up, but if you ask any non-Russian in Brooklyn they will tell you the same thing. And if they all happen to be just like the people who thank god moved out who used to live upstairs, they are indeed the worst people on earth.

    And if they got really good at lying, cheating, and swindling, they could get all kinds of good stuff way beyond those basics.

  17. sane37 says:

    Its no mystery.
    It was rhetorical. :-)

  18. SuperShrug says:

    Why is Russia even a host? They friggin’ invaded a country on the eve of the 2008 summer olympics. The Olympics are supposed to be a time of peace. I’m putting Russia in the same category as China; ie, time to start flipping over my products and checking where it was produced.

  19. slappymagoo says:

    If Peter Gabriel has taught me anything, it’s that “sans” is French for “without.” It’s Reporters WITHOUT Frontiers. No big deal but in case someone’s looking for more info on the org, it might help to fix.

  20. frogview says:

    I knew a Russian professor at a university, who was born in Moscow. Knowing her well, I asked her why it was I found Russian graduate students so distasteful and unlikable? She agreed with my observation ad said it was cultural. Generation, after generation the Russian people have had to lie, steal, con,and swindle just for food and warm clothing. She went on to add that because of this, you can not take a Russian at face value. Since that conversation when I have been introduced to a person who is Russian, I take a step back and check my pockets. Not to be trusted!
    I supported the boycott of Sochi and still do. I will not watch.

  21. LanceThruster says:

    Their behavior recalls the observations of Max von Sydow’s character (an abnormal psychologist) in the movie “Citizen X.”

    What sort of issues do these lads have that make them so fixated on psycho-sexual torture. Aren’t there any Russian females they can spend quality time with?

    So very, very, sad.

    You handled him quite deftly.

    I’ve had it. I will not suffer that stupidity anymore!

    He may be stupid, but he’s in charge.

  22. BeccaM says:

    U.S. Sponsors: NBC, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, VISA, GE, Dow, P&G, Microsoft, Adecco, Kelly Services…

    Money. That’s why. Corporate profits always trump human rights.

  23. Ang says:

    The Olympics also went after knitters on for participating in a “Ravelympics,” which included things like an Afghan Marathon. The US Olympic Committee sent a pissy cease and desist letter to Ravelry: “We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.” Ravelry ended up renaming the event.

    Because there is no bigger threat than the big, bad crafters.

    (The entire letter is posted here, but you have to log into Ravelry to read the discussion thread:

  24. Monoceros Forth says:

    Nothing says “Olympic spirit” like hosting the Olympiad in a country that’s hysterically obsessed with preserving its national purity against the poisonous influence of foreign agents. You know, if the Russian authorities really want to assert that the only reason homosexuality exists in their country is because of foreigners, then maybe the IOC should heed their wishes and take the Olympics somewhere else and spare Russia the trauma of being exposed to alien corruption.

  25. Gavin O'Donoghue says:

    Everyone should pull out of the olympics and all the murderers in the picture should be put down

  26. Whitewitch says:

    Time to realize that the Russians have totally lost their mind and the the US should PULL OUT…and I mean that in very none sexual way.

  27. Linda says:

    Time for an online petition and phone deluge. This is obscene and completely unacceptable – I for one will not watch a moment of this horrific display disguised as some kind of uplifting sports competition.

  28. sane37 says:

    Why is the US even participating in the sochi olympics?

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