Please don’t forget

Russia cleaned up in this years winter Olympic games. Not only in medals (13 gold, 11 silver, 9 bronze – 33 total) but in clearing the “undesired” from the street.

More countries bringing home lots of Olympic bling were Norway (11 gold, 5 silver, 10 bronze – 26 total) and they legalized gay marriage in the beginning of 2009, Canada (10 gold, 10 silver, 5 bronze – 25 total) who legalized gay marriage in 2005 and The Netherlands (8 gold, 7 silver, 9 bronze – 24 total) who lead the world in not only speed skating but gay marriage rights by legalizing unions in early 2000.

As we look at the medal count, Olympians are packing to go back to their respective countries. Shadow boxes are being made or purchased for holding over mum’s fireplace. Armchair athletes are turning their TVs off but will we close off to the suffering still being endured as quickly as we bid ado with the closing ceremonies?

We must not forget the horrific conditions so many are still living in as we as nations collectively pat ourselves on the back. 

Draconian anti-gay laws are driving people into hiding lest they be tortured. 
Neighbours are turning against neighbours in disturbing shows of homophobic hatred as endorsed by an autocratic government.

Here in Canada, the refugee board is looking favouribly upon gay Russians looking to flee a country that would see them jailed or worse simply for being.

A recent study showed that 74% of Russians polled said homosexuality should not be accepted by society, which was up from 60% in 2002 (including 5% who said homosexuals should be “liquidated”).

Beyond the government, the Russian Orthodox Church is behind the open hatred of homosexuals. Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church (approximately 80% of Russians are members) said that the idea of same-sex marriage was “a very dangerous sign of the Apocalypse”.

Proving that he who holds the pen writes the history, a government funded biopic to be released in 2015, about Russian Composer Tchaikovsky claiming  “it is far from a fact that Tchaikovsky was a homosexual,” and that he would  “not sign my name to a film that advertises homosexuality”.
Russian government is stating that (film maker) “Arabov is actually right – there is no evidence that Tchaikovsky was a homosexual.” despite scholars pointing out that Tchaikovsky’s homosexuality has been extensively documented in the composer’s correspondence and personal papers. 

As the Olympics approached and the world’s eyes were truly opened to the propaganda laws, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko stated that western media had an “invented problem” over the ensuing controversy.

As homosexual hate crimes and intolerance rise, we must not turn a blind eye.
The Olympics may be done but the time for unity has just begun.  

Please don’t forget those who suffer as we celebrate. 

Thank you.

Are we truly bringing people together?

In 1936 Nazi Germany used the Olympic Games as a platform. They fostered the games in the attempt to portray the National Socialist Party as a peace-loving & benevolent party, when in reality it was used to display Aryan superiority. 
This year doesn’t seem much different with Sochi. 

The decision to keep the games in Russia in the face of the glaring treatment of LGBTQ community members and allies is looking more and more like an embarrassment to the IOC. 

With propaganda and the acceptance of neighbourhood watch & report, it doesn’t seem that much different from Nazi Germany at all.

What is more disappointing is the number of countries which have decided to not boycott the Games this year. That number would be…100%.
Boycotting the games for the matter of political agenda isn’t unheard of.
In 1956 three countries (the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland) were not in attendance in protest of the Hungarian uprising in the (then) Soviet Union. 
In 1972 and 1976 a number of African countries threatened boycott to try and force the IOC to ban segregationist South Africa and Rhodesia. New Zealand was also included in the ban request due to the national rugby team’s tour of arphied-ruled South Africa.
After the IOC refused to ban New Zealand based on the fact that rugby was not an Olympic sport, it did concede on banning the other two countries. During the 1976 Montreal games, twenty African countries, joined by Guyana and Iraq, fulfilled their threat and withdrew from the games, even after a few countries had participated.
Cold war opponants vollied back and forth boycotting games in 1980 and 1984, starting with 65 different nations boycotting the 1980 Moscow games because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In 1984, the Soviet Union and 15 other countries then boycotted the Los Angeles  stating that they could not guarantee the safety of their athletes. (we’ll get back to that)

In 2012 IOC  Women and Sports Commission chair, Anita DeFrantz, suggested the banning of countries who prohibited female athletes to compete. This drove countries to allow women to compete and made London’s 2012 Summer games the first in which every country had at least one female athlete competing. 

With all of this and more, countries are still competing in an Olympics where a group of peoples are being openly discriminated against, harassed, threatened and met with daily violence. Countries which have passed equal marriage laws.

I understand that with games being once every 4 years it may be the only time athletes get to compete but at the same time, we have to ask ourselves “at what cost”.

As we approach the Opening Ceramonies, we are discovering how unprepared Russia is to host the games. 
We are learning about the slaughter of thousands of stray dogs
Media are being met with unprepared and ill equipped hotel accommodations.
More and more we’re learning about the grotesque acts of violence committed upon the LGBTQ community.

Here we see a video of a group called “Occupy Pedophilia” and just some of their heinous crimes. 

More and more we are seeing the poor and embarrassing choice made by the IOC not to pull out when there was still a chance. 

With at least 6 openly gay athletes participating in the Olympics, we can not be guaranteed the safety of our athletes. This was the exact reasoning given by this very country in 1984.

If countries have boycotted and pulled out of the Olympics for other reasons, reasons that were just as valid then as this is today, then why aren’t they stretching that ability now? Why is nobody formally standing up and telling the IOC & Russia that this kind of treatment of a group of society isn’t ok and won’t be tolerated. 

I can’t speak for other countries but as a Canadian, living in a country where equal marriage has been legal for quite some time, I am greatly disappointing in our decision to stay in the games. 
We have stood up and said that love & marriage is a basic human right for all people but does that only extend till ratings and mitten sales are involved?