Straight Alliance for LGBT Equality (Russia)
St. Petersburg, August, 16, 2013
The Straight Alliance for LGBT Equality sent an open letter to International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Government of the USA and European Countries in the matter of the Olympic Games in Russia. In our appeal (see below) we ask the addressees to require from Putin’s government to stop the politics of discrimination and human rights abuse. Otherwise the Olympic Games in Sochi must be cancelled and transferred to another country.
The President of International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge and members of IOC
The President of the USA Barack Obama
The Prime-minister of Great Britain David Cameron
The Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel
The leaders of other countries of European Union
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the course of the past few weeks many respectable people and organizations made a call to boycott or cancel Winter Olympic Games 2014 in Russia, which policy discords with the Olympic principles, claiming to stand against any form of discrimination.
Discrimination is officially declared as a national policy in Russia. Anti-gay laws publicly and blatantly declare a part of a nation as a second-class citizens. These principles are openly fascist, humiliating and shameful. We insist that a country where such policies are adopted must not be allowed to host the Olympic Games.
The famous actor Stephen Fry has already reminded you in his open letter about a case, when Olympic rings had been besmirched with dishonor. The 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin ended up supporting and asserting Hitler’s power. The world must not repeat this historical mistake, which had cost a billion people’s lives. You do not have the right to keep silent and allow a new dictator of Europe to delude you forcing to participate in his dirty tricks.
You do not have the right to keep silent and allow a new dictator of Europe to delude you while forcing you to participate in his dirty tricks.
Now as in 1936 your silence will aid and abet actual and potential crimes of Putin’s regime.
The laws which abuse basic human rights and freedoms have been passed in Russia. Putin set a course for the establishment of a dictatorship, rollback of institutes of democracy and extermination of a civil society.
LGBT discrimination fueled by the “gay propaganda” law is the apogee but not the only example of barbarism. In Russia members of the opposition, who speak out against government, are pursued and imprisoned. Independent courts, freedom of press and incorruptible elections have been exterminated, we have political prisoners here again. There is not much left from the freedoms of 90s democracy.
Under the pretense of “protection of morality”, “protection of children” and “traditional values” the government persecutes dissidents, abridges freedom of speech and meetings, imposes censorship and fosters feelings of hatred in the society. Neo-fascists movements, hunting for people, including teenagers, act under the protection of government and are not afraid of responsibility. Hate crimes are not investigated.
There are no mass executions in Russia as yet, but the government will go any length. Concentration camps are appearing as we speak, yet limited to detain illegal migrants. Political repressions have become a regular and sinister sign of time in Russia.
The Governments of Western countries and IOC do not have the right to close their eyes while Putin is leading Russia to a catastrophe. Moral and political values of the western world oblige you to react unequivocally and decisively to the despotism of Putin’s regime.
“Don’t be afraid of your friends. At worst, they may betray you. Don’t be afraid of your enemies. The worst they can do is to kill you. Fear those who do not care; they neither kill nor betray, but betrayal and murder exists because of their silent consent” – these are the words of Bruno Jasienski, who was shot on Stalin’s order.
We ask you to not be indifferent, like “those who do not care”! Nowadays in Russia thousands of free-minded people are filled with despair while struggle for their liberty, often risking life and limb. Self-respect does not allow them to give up under the threat of repression.
We need your support. Fighters for liberty in Russia always looked out for the West where the basic values of democracy and human rights are beyond any doubt. The governments of the USA and Europe demonstrated time after time their readiness to make a stand for these values in other countries of the world. Please do not forget about it.
The Russian government makes everything to escape criticism and to prevent the failure of Putin’s favorite project – Olympic Games in Sochi. It would give him – like Hitler in 1936 – legitimation in the face of the international community. Now officials lie about safety guarantees for foreign athletes and sports fans. They repeat this demagogic lie that Russian laws do not violate the rights of LGBT community but are only supposed to protect children.
The real purpose of the “gay propaganda” law is to silence people who protect equality and oppose LGBT discrimination, to threaten people who just want to live their life as free persons, not hiding away “in the closet”. Open harassment of LGBT and their allies is widespread. Pictures of police clearing away LGBT demonstrations and neo-nazis attacking participants of this demonstration are famous all over the world. Moreover, in Russia there has already been a precedent of arresting foreign guests because of the new “propaganda” law. It was the Dutch director Chris Van der Veen and his production team.
All guarantees given to you are fake. A political conman in the head of a great country is trying to walk over you.
The country regularly humiliating its own citizens can hardly give any guarantees to foreigners. Punitive actions in Russia are purposely conceived in such a way that they can target anyone. Sending your sportsmen to the Olympic Games, you put them at risk of police actions. Police actions for the basic human right in civilized countries – right to be yourself and protect this right, right to express your point of view.
But even if Putin’s guarantees are true, isn’t it shameful for you to get “favored treatment” from the hands of a dictator in the realization of basic human rights which Russian citizens do not have?
We are sure that the cancellation of the odious and anti-democratic laws is a required condition to host the Olympic Games in Russia. The ban on “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” must be cancelled, as well as other new punitive laws which are used for threatening and persecuting people. These are laws about “protection of feelings of religious believers”, about declaring NGO “foreign agents”, about the ban on foreign adoption of Russian orphans (also in same-sex families), about censorship of the internet under the pretence of “protecting children from dangerous information”. Political prisoners also must be set free.
Otherwise Russia does not have any moral or political right to be a place of holding the Olympic Games. The Games must be moved to a more suitable location.
We ask you, representatives of IOC and governments of the western countries, who understand the values of freedom, human rights and equality, to come out for protection of these values in Russia.
Recently we got unsettling news. According to an IOC representative, for demonstration of the rainbow-colored symbolic for support Russian LGBT community athletes would be punished not only by the government of Russian Federation, but also by IOC, because the IOC charter prohibits political, religious and other kinds of propaganda. But in case of objection to homophobic policy of Russia it is not “political propaganda” but protection of human dignity and solidarity to humiliated and discriminated people. The question is about protection of IOC principles, which prohibit discrimination! Threatening sanctions against the sportsmen, using for it demagogic rhetoric like Putin, IOC settles down to the course of collusion to inhumane dictatorship of repression of human rights and freedoms.
While it is not too late we ask you to stop playing games with the dictator. It is essential for the civilized world to boycott Putin. The new fascist regime must be stopped and isolated – in the name of protection of freedom and values of civilization.
In hopes for your solidarity and historical wisdom,
Russian movement “Straight Alliance for LGBT Equality”
Natalia Tsymbalova, coordinator of the Alliance
Anna Shuval-Sergeeva, coordinator for international relations
Ivan Simochkin, Moscow group of the Alliance
Please sign and share our petition!
The Straight Alliance for LGBT equality is a Russian social movement founded in May 2012 in St. Petersburg. We are heterosexuals who support the struggle for equal civil rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT). We have come together to say “NO!” to discrimination and persecution of our fellow citizens, friends, and loved ones. We are creating a space free from homophobia and are promoting the formation in Russia of a more tolerant society and a State without discrimination.
The Russian authorities have adopted laws prescribing administrative penalties for what is called “homosexual propaganda”, and thereby are condoning popular homophobic prejudice. We believe these laws to be shameful and absurd. They violate the human rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
Everyone has the right to love and be loved and not be ashamed of it! The state should not be climbing into people’s beds or into their souls. We want to put an end to this disgrace!