IOC: We’ll ban athletes spreading gay “propaganda” at Olympics

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) reiterated yesterday that it would ban any Olympic athlete guilty of spreading “propaganda” at the 2014 Winter Olympics to be held in Sochi, Russia next February.

Using the same unfortunate language that is in Russia’s draconian new anti-gay/anti-trans “propaganda” law, the IOC appeared to stand by the decision, reported earlier this week, to ban the LGBT Pride House at this year’s Olympics.

The IOC’s new statement, banning gay “propaganda,” was given to the Washington Blade yesterday.


IOC bans Pride House

Earlier this week, Gay Star News reported that it asked the IOC whether there would again be an LGBT Pride House at the Sochi Olympics, and got the following shocking response:

We also asked if the IOC would provide a safe space – or Pride House – for LGBT athletes, spectators, dignitaries and others during the games to celebrate gay sport and community.

But their spokeswoman told us: ‘Regarding your suggestions, the IOC has a clear rule laid out in the Olympic Charter (Rule 50) which states that the venues of the Olympic Games are not a place for proactive political or religious demonstration.

‘This rule has been in place for many years and applied when necessary.

Pride House was allowed at London and Vancouver games

Yet, in the previous two Olympics in London and Vancouver, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender “Pride House” was created to give gay and trans athletes a place to relax, congregate, and hopefully build a greater sense of community.  How could Pride House be permitted under the Olympic Charter in London and Vancouver, but not in Moscow?

It’s seems rather clear that the IOC caved to Russian pressure.  The Russians banned Pride House last year, in violation of the Olympic Charter, claiming it would lead to the end of all civilization.  At the time, the IOC issued a wishy-washy statement, but that was all.  That has now changed.

Russia says Pride House threatens its “territorial integrity”

From our earlier coverage of the Russian ban on Pride House:

A Russian judge has sided with the Russian government, claiming that if the Olympics again have a Pride House for LGBT athletes, it could force Russia to literally split in two.

But judge Svetlana Mordovina ruled against them saying that Pride House would threaten the growth of the Russian population and therefore risk the country’s ‘territorial integrity’.

And the IOC now agrees.  “Pride House,” and gay pride generally, is now “political propaganda” unworthy of the Olympics.

IOC fails to define “gay propaganda”

But if the IOC thinks this is the latest statement it needs to answer about gays and the Olympics, it is sadly mistaken.  Thanks to the IOC’s bizarre statements this week, it is now unclear if gay Olympians can even appear in public with their legally-wed spouses, as, under Russian law, that’s “gay propaganda.”

You know what else is gay propaganda?

– A gay man holding his husband’s hand in public.

– Permitting NBC News into your home to interview you and your husband, “Up Close and Personal” – like the American media does for every other US athlete.

– A lesbian having her wife show up at her Olympic competition, where the media is bound to show a picture of her wife, and identity her, while the Olympian is competing.

– Hugging your gay spouse after they win, or lose, a competition.

– Wearing a Gay Pride pin.

– Wearing Freedom Rings.

– Wearing your wedding ring if you had a “gay” marriage.

The list of what constitutes “gay propaganda” is seemingly endless.

So what does the IOC ban and what does it not ban?  No one knows.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | 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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69 Responses to “IOC: We’ll ban athletes spreading gay “propaganda” at Olympics”

  1. vonlmo says:

    Had the IOC ever been a “stand-up” organisation, it would have told the Russians to get fucked. Plainly their once strident claims of probity, in the face of reports of massive corruption, were rubbish & remain so. Let’s not forget the notorious shenanigans the judges play particularly in the figure skating division. The Olympics are like Christmas. The athletes are merely an excuse to hold a marketing scheme to sell stuff.

  2. Norman Dostal says:

    the IOC are fools-you dont cross gay people-they have righteousness on their side-watch the IOC pay

  3. Badgerite says:

    Stephen Fry was on Craig Ferguson’s show tonight talking about this and other things. He was really good. Of course.

  4. Butch1 says:

    He’s proven over and over he’s nothing but an empty suit.

  5. NMRon says:

    Only the latest reason to abandon this corrupt organization. A great event for the world’s athletes, but a grade ‘A’ boondoggle for the rest of us.

  6. Anonymous says:

    No of course they won’t punish Christianity. They made blasphemy illegal – but only against Christians. There is no rule that says Olympians can’t demonstrate their views. That’s just BS these Russian leaders are spouting.

  7. TampaZeke says:

    So they don’t tolerate “political or religious demonstration”?

    Can we expect the IOC to send athletes home who wear crosses around their necks, or cross themselves before they compete, or point to heaven when they win, or dedicate their win to God/Allah/the Lord Jesus Christ?

    If not, WHY NOT?

  8. mike31c says:

    Nothing like caving to the asshole bigots in Russia right IOC?

  9. Hue-Man says:

    Pride House is as much political as the Olympic Athletes’ Village – all those men living under the same roof and if they were to have women and men in the same building that would be even worse! Women are to be veiled from head to toe and accompanied at all times by a responsible male relative. This licentiousness is anti-Saudi propaganda!

    On a lighter note, here’s one of the Stephen Colbert Vancouver Pride House interviews from 2010 (there are several more). It’s hard to figure out how under-18 y.o. Russian “children” would get access to a Sochi Pride House to be corrupted by HOMOsexuals.

  10. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    John, it may be time to coordinate what might be the ‘nuclear option’ on this. Start a boycott of COMCAST. Each customer who walks away from Comcast for say, Direct TV or Uverse results in a loss of around 6200 bucks over 5 years (the average tenure of a cable customer). Even if 1000 people drop Comcast (a very low number to reach), the loss to COMCAST could get really big, really quickly. COMCAST/NBC paid 775 million to the IOC for Sochi alone. Perhaps its time to show NBC/Comcast that they shouldn’t take our money and hand it to Russian/IOC homophobes. 10,000 people switch = 62 million lost to Comcast in revenue. 100,000 switch = 620 million (almost as much as they paid the IOC). A coordinated boycott of NBC/Comcast would cause real financial pain to the largest American funder of Sochi/IOC. It would certainly get the IOC’s attention too, because they need American $$$$ to continue to pay their outrageous salaries and to send to third world IOC’s that vote for Russia to get the games in the first place. Obviously, there would need to be coordination, but that would be one of the most powerful weapons we could use to really pressure them.

  11. Anonymous says:

    This is how it starts

  12. BeccaM says:

    As I noted above, they’ve defined ‘gay propaganda’ such that simply saying “Как не ошибиться, чтобы быть гомосексуалистом человека. Они не представляет опасности для детей.”* — in public, can get you arrested, imprisoned, fined, and deported (if a foreigner).

    Translation: “It is not wrong to be a gay person. They are not a danger to children.”

    Speaking out against the Russian law that makes saying that illegal, is also illegal.

  13. BeccaM says:

    …and they won’t drop their demands for an in-perpetuity economic blockade until they get all their stuff back, the property and businesses seized when Castro’s communists took over, plus interest.

  14. BeccaM says:

    The definition of “gay propaganda” under the new Russian law includes anybody — gay or straight — saying in public that it’s not wrong to be a gay person or that gay people are not a danger to children, because gay does not equal pedophile.

  15. kevinbgoode says:

    This could get increasingly difficult for the IOC to actually enforce with any degree of certainty. There are pronounced cultural differences among nations, meaning certain symbols and/or non-verbal symbols carry a different meaning. For example, remember when George Bush II held the hand of that (I wanna say, Saudi?) prince and walked through the garden in Texas? Well, that behavior is common among men in certain cultures of the Middle East. How in the world is the IOC going to decide which displays are “gay propaganda” and which ones are merely cultural expressions common to a culture? Are they going to overlook two men holding hands from Saudi Arabia, but then arrest two other men if they are holding hands as making a “political statement” if they are from Switzerland?

    It just seems to me the IOC is digging a hole they will never be able to get out of and this is rapidly becoming a public relations disaster for them. Whoever is pulling the strings at this organization clearly seems to know very little about the countries who actually participate in the games. At this point, it actually seems better for the IOC to just outright ban any kind of relationship/sexual orientation expression (hetero or homo) – (rings, pictures, spouses, boy/girlfriends, even parents) as “political” and be done with the whole mess.

    We sure as hell can’t count on the obviously right-wing loving Russians to be able to figure out who is guilty of “propaganda” and who isn’t on this matter – and now it is quite clear that the IOC is equally dense.

  16. emjayay says:

    Cuba is special. A lot of old ex-Batista related rich people came from there.

  17. emjayay says:

    Maybe there’s a reference to what the IOC actually said about gay propaganda in the post, but I couldn’t find it. Anyway, this is the Washington Blade article for your convenience:

  18. karmanot says:

    In fact most of the family royals on that committee were fascists or collaborated.

  19. jomicur says:

    Can we please lay to rest once and for all the proposition that the Olympics are about peace and love and brotherhood and respect and all like that? They are about the almighty dollar/pound/euro/ruble/what-have-you. Period. And that goes for everything about the Olympics. I’m already horribly tired of hearing about how hurting the games will really only hurt the poor, self-sacrificing athletes. What you’re seeing when you watch an Olympic event is a group of jocks duking it out to see who will get the next multi-million-dollar endorsement deal. There’s no earthly reason why anyone should care except the jocks themselves, their families and their agents. Well, they’ve made a bad career choice, and that’s too bad, but it isn’t more important than the lives, rights and dignity of LGBT people.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Not enough workers to exploit in Europe and the US. And developed countries want too much money in profits. It’s better to host the games in Qatar so Coca-Cola can dupe all the locals into wearing their logo.

  21. Markus Harker says:

    The Olympic ideals have been shat on by the IOC time and time again and it is not all about LGBTI oppression. In 2008, they gave the summer games to China, one to one of most politically repressive regimes on the planet and now the winter games to Putin’s Russia. In 2016, the summer games will go to Brazil, a country that turns a blind eye to the eviction of native people from their land and their murder if they resist. I for one am done supporting the Olympics, regardless of where they are held.

  22. Bruce says:

    and it isn’t just the gays that are being persecuted, this is just the beginning, we are just the easiest target to get the ball rolling

  23. Bruce says:

    and if NBC broadcasts it, stop watch the worthless channel, boycott the Olympic,NBC, and all sponsors

  24. nicho says:

    I think he’s always been one of them. His rocket ride from obscurity into the White House was no an accident.

  25. Bruce says:

    here here, grow a pair O’butthead

  26. Bruce says:

    you said it

  27. Bruce says:

    they have no backbone

  28. nicho says:

    Oh really? Then why can’t I travel to Cuba? And if you think this is a free country, you are living in a fantasy land.

  29. Bruce says:

    If they don’t move it, We should boycott it,

  30. Bruce says:

    this is a free country they really can’t do that, or shouldn’t. Not that I agree with even wanting to go to that hateful country

  31. lynchie says:

    well goal accomplished. He doesn’t realize they like having pets, they look good in photo ops

  32. UncleBucky says:

    Then FµCK the IOC. And the horse they rode in on.

  33. fritzrth says:


  34. nicho says:

    Not rubles — even the Russians don’t want rubles. Better to have monopoly money.

  35. fritzrth says:

    Excellent! And so true.

  36. fritzrth says:

    It’s buried under tons of euros, rubles, dollars, yen, …

  37. nicho says:

    Have you read the membership list of the IOC. It is made up of the 0.0001%. To them, we’re all just servants.

  38. Whitewitch says:


  39. fritzrth says:

    God, it’s nice to hear some straight talk on the Obama for a change. I’ve missed it here.

  40. 2patricius2 says:

    Signed. Didn’t notice a link on the site to share on Facebook or in emails. Did I miss it?

  41. fritzrth says:

    Absolutely. I just made another post below saying the same thing … although not as succinctly! B-)

  42. fritzrth says:

    That’s why it is also important to announce a full boycott of NBC and all sponsors who have decided that supporting the olympics is more important than human lives and livelihoods. People are being murdered in Russia, jailed, beaten, kidnapped, all with the government’s support and approbation.

  43. usagi says:

    Which means, all of the official Olympic sponsors are also complicit.

  44. TheOriginalLiz says:

    silly me – I was going by the dictionary definition.

  45. fritzrth says:

    The IOC has made its stand and taken its position. It is directly condoning, supporting and abetting the Russian government’s state sponsored pogram against its GLBT citizens. It is complicit.

  46. nicho says:

    “So then I told them I was a fierce advocate — and they fell for it — again”

  47. nicho says:

    Well, for the athletes, it’s what gets them the endorsements and multi-million dollar contracts from the shirt, shoe, and cereal companies.

  48. nicho says:

    Do we not have one member of Congress with enough integrity to file a bill banning travel to Russia by all Americans until Russia stops is pogrom against the LGBT community? Not one? Really?

  49. Al says:

    The Olympics is dead. It was a good idea while it lasted. But it is now buried under 6 feet of bigotry and pretty looking layer of sod commercialism. There is no longer any point to participating either as an athlete or a spectator in this kind of endeavor.

  50. nicho says:

    It’s whatever they want it to be. The IOC is following the Russian model. So “propaganda” could be as simple as looking at someone or holding their hand.

  51. caphillprof says:

    Being gay is not propaganda. Acting gay is not propaganda.

  52. Scott Wylie says:

    The IOC has no right to ban a “Pride House” especially given that they said nothing about London or Vancouver.

    Please help me spread this petition requesting participating nations to add a small yet visible Rainbow Flag to their athletes uniforms. Let’s see if the Neanderthal Russian thug cops are willing to arrest HUNDREDS of athletes. Please sign, then SHARE, TWEET and EMAIL as much as you can.

  53. TheOriginalLiz says:

    Maybe I’m showing my naivete here, but what, exactly, is “gay propaganda” I”m envisioning cold war era soviet posters…

  54. Butch1 says:

    The “fierce advocate” will not do anything more that have a fancy speech written for him. He will then pontificate on the virtues of how we should treat everyone equal and that will be it even though we in this country are still unequal.

  55. uhagen says:

    So I will ignore Olympic Winter Games.

  56. Butch1 says:

    Just wonderful. They side with the Russians in their bigotry. Way to go guys. You need to lose all of your backing from supporters of this event. ( you know, the ones that televise it or support it through their products., perhaps that would get your attention and put you on the right side of history. )

  57. PeteWa says:

    it’s nice of the IOC to show everyone, once again, what they’re really all about.

  58. Anonymous says:

    His goal was to become one of them. On the bright side, look at Michelle’s pretty outfits – she even wears them twice sometimes!

  59. nicho says:

    He’s too busy hobnobbing with 0.01% on The Vineyard. Golf and cocktails — and laughing at the 99% — take precedence over principle.

  60. Anonymous says:

    On the bright side, I heard a rumor that Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark (IOC member) has spoken out against the laws today. I have yet to find an article though…

  61. nicho says:

    It’s time for the US to withdraw from the IOC

  62. cole3244 says:

    fascism has many faces, many are familiar and not threatening, but dangerous none the less.

  63. lynchie says:

    Well lets hear words of wisdom from his O’ness. Past the point when governments should take a stand. The IOC takes money from every type of regime and human rights violator yet threatens the very people responsible for their existence. Without athletes, no games. Yet they side with the thugs who run russia. I want to see where our government stands on this issue as well as other countries. Or was the evolving only another great bullshit line for Barry?

  64. Monoceros Forth says:

    Oh, fuck this. Screw the IOC, really, and screw the Olympics. It’s all such a farce, anyway, this pretension to being a lofty and principled organization devoted purely to sport and athletic excellence and the spirit of “amateurism” when really it’s all about money. Especially when it comes to the Winter Games which are basically just the rich man’s Olympics.

  65. I agree with you completely, but we all know this will never happen. Anywhere there’s money involved, it always wins out, and there is a TON of it involved with the Olympics.

  66. douglas01 says:

    It’s time for the IOC to move the Olympics to another venue.

  67. To paraphrase Harvey Fierstein: Fuck these assholes, fuck them on their graves.

  68. Peter says:

    There couldn’t be a better reason for all nations that have equality legislation to announce a full boycott of the games, and investigation into the IOC itself.

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