Robert Hampton

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7th February 2014

The Anger Games
Posted by at 1.15pm | Gay, In the News | No responses

Tonight the Winter Olympics open in Sochi, Russia, but a lot of the world’s attention is focused on a different kind of “sport” in that country. Channel 4’s Dispatches on Wednesday told the story of the gangs who hunt gay people, trapping them in order to humiliate and torture them, uploading the footage online for all to see. The documentary makers got access to some of the groups – no need for hidden cameras; they were happy to boast on film about what they did. Watch it online (UK only) but be warned: it really is horrific.

After watching, I feel grateful to live in a country that (at least during my adult life) has become more and more accepting of gay people. Anti-gay violence still happens, of course, but any British politician attacking LGBT people can expect to be condemned and mocked (q.v. David “gays cause floods” Silvester and the resulting UKIP Shipping Forecast). Not so in Russia, where homosexuality and paedophilia are conflated, and politicians eagerly use gay people, under the guise of “protecting children” to distract from other issues. The LGBT community can’t even fight back, thanks to the “no promo homo” law passed last year.

The Games will not be boycotted, but numerous countries and organisations have hinted at their displeasure. The USA took a deliberate decision to include gay athletes in their Olympic delegation, while Germany designed rainbow-coloured uniforms for their team. Great Britain responded by, er… well, David Cameron sent a Tweet to Stephen Fry.

Google has unveiled a new doodle, complete with a quote from the Olympic charter. Channel 4 (who have the rights to the Winter Paralympics) have gone one step further, producing this elaborate trailer which will air across all their channels.

The danger is that after the Games, when the world’s media is no longer watching, the anti-gay attitudes will be ratcheted up even further. Gay rights organisations around the world are working to support Russia’s LGBT community. Stonewall’s page on Russia is a good starting point for more information and advice on how to help.

28th July 2013

From Russia Without Love
Posted by at 11.14pm | Gay, In the News | 1 response

The Russian Parliament has recently passed a law banning gay ‘propaganda’. Think of it as their version of Section 28, if Section 28 were terrifying. Recently, some Dutch filmmakers were among the first to fall foul of the law – they were jailed for 14 days and deported.

Terrible reports have emerged of gay teenagers being tortured in videos posted online by anti-gay groups. Scary stuff.

The Winter Olympics will be held in Russia next year. There have been calls to boycott the Games (including an ePetition on the UK Government website). There’s no need to worry, however – The International Olympic Committee has taken care of it:-

In a statement, the IOC said: “The IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.

So that’s OK then.

Some gay rights groups are also trying to organise a boycott of Russian vodka. It remains to be seen how effective this will be.

It’s a sad reminder that, while the LGBT community here is celebrating equal marriage becoming law, life for gay people elsewhere is often far from rosy.