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#TBT: LGBTQ Rights in the Spotlight at Sochi Olympic Games

by HRC staff August 18, 2016

Just over two years ago, Sochi, Russia, hosted the Winter Olympics on the heels of the country’s imposition of harsh anti-LGBTQ laws -- including banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” and prohibiting same-sex couples from adopting.

At that time, HRC condemned Russia’s anti-LGBTQ legislation, highlighting its dangerous effects, including putting LGBTQ Russians, Olympians, and travelers in danger. As the world turned to the Sochi Olympics, HRC led an international conversation around LGBTQ rights in Russia.

HRC called on NBC to use its exclusive coverage of the Games to denounce the laws and tracked the network’s coverage of the issue. HRC also urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reconsider its stance after it accepted empty promises from President Vladimir Putin, and asserted the laws did not violate the non-discrimination section of its charter. HRC also called on Olympic sponsors to condemn the legislation.

Additionally, HRC launched a Russian-language #LoveConquersHate social media campaign that reached millions around the globe. The campaign in support of LGBTQ Russians generated 316 million impressions, and nearly 10,000 people, including celebrity influencers, shared photos of themselves wearing the iconic #LoveConquersHate T-shirt. The campaign raised $140,000 for the Russia Freedom Fund.

One year after Russia enacted the harsh anti-LGBT laws, HRC reported that the Russian LGBTQ community was being targeted in a rising tide of violence. Anti-LGBTQ sentiment was rampant. Politicians  compared LGBTQ people to pedophiles, LGBTQ citizens were placed under surveillance, and some have lost their jobs.

Sadly, Russia’s leaders have done nothing to change the laws or to protect LGBTQ people, and the effects have been devastating.

The IOC, however, adopted policy changes to protect the LGBTQ community in future games. The IOC changed its charter to include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination clause, but the policy falls short: it does not include gender identity, leaving transgender athletes without protections.

As the world unites during Rio, HRC again calls on Russia to repeal its harsh legislation and nullify these vile laws that not only deny equal rights to LGBTQ people but put them in harm’s way

HRC staff
HRC staff


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