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Russia's anti-gay laws prompt vodka, Olympics boycott

Categories: World

Activists hold a banner reading "Homophobia - the religion of bullies" in Red Square in Moscow, Russia. (Associated Press)

As Russia slowly closes its doors to the gay community ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics this winter, LGBT activists around the world are likening the country's new anti-gay laws to an affront on human rights. 

Russian president Vladimir Putin recently enacted laws meant to restrict homosexuals from living openly in the country, as well as threatening to arrest openly-gay tourists on holiday for the Olympics.

Russia has also passed laws forbidding babies from being adopted by same sex couples in Russia. Calls to boycott the Olympics have been spreading on social media sites. 

Some CBC readers are not entirely convinced that this is the best way to protest.

  • "How many of our athletes are gay? Let's say there are five. Do we punish the rest of our athletes that are straight? Stop making a mountain out of a molehill," wrote iamacanadian. 

  • "Well I would hope our athletes exercise their dedication to their sport and not in making political statement. Like it or not, you visit a foreign country, you abide by their laws. 
    "I would hope that when visitors from foreign countries come to our sports events, they don't bring their placards denouncing some of our laws. Observe the Bear but don't' go poking him," said Hairyorang.

  • "Worried about the Russian! I do not agree with the Russian laws but they pale in comparison to Qatar where the World Cup will be in 2022! 
    "If I was a gay athlete or spectator going to Russia, I would be a little worried, but if I was a gay athlete going to Qatar, I would seriously think about not going the penalties are way, way, way too much of a risk!" said Limbo in J.

  • "Anti-gay laws should be the least of visitors concerns given Sochi's proximity to the troubled regions of Chechnya and Dagestan," said CoolAlex. 

Calls from activists are also urging the LGBT community, and anyone sympathizing with their plight, to also boycott Russian vodka and caviar. 

Bars send vodka to the gulag Businesses such as the Fountainhead Pub in Vancouver have stopped serving Russian vodka, and a five late-night hot spots in Chicago's gay village have followed suit, urging patrons to do the same. 

Some readers agree enthusiastically with the boycott, and some have other suggestions:

  • "It is so hard to believe that in the 21st Century there are so many countries that not only discriminate against gays but also punish them. Boycotting the Olympics is probably not a good idea. It would hurt our athletes more than anyone else. Maybe we should pick up on the idea from the B.C. bar. Boycott Russian vodka at east sends a message and there may be a fear of a wider boycott.

  • "Time to boycott vodka and the Sochi games! Any person that gets involved in a gay pride parade will end up in Siberia. What more can you expect in a country where you can't even have an opposition party. Sad!! wrote Silversurfer09.

  • "You're worried about Russian law but have nothing to say about the Olympics' unhealthy sponsors - Coke and McDonalds? I doubt any Olympian buys any of their products," wrote. TRUTH-SEEKER. 

  • "How very sad. A country like this has no business being allowed to be part of the Olympic family. Boycott them and get rid of them. They can't be allowed to continue participating," wrote WTLIVING.

  • "They should cancel the Sochi games, or move them. Because, to go ahead with it is to support Russia and its backwards-thinking regressive laws. Do they honestly think that by informing minors of what it means to be GLBTQ will turn them gay? Man, how stupid are these people?" wrote Jasonf6. 

According to the human rights watch, by passing these laws, Russia flouts the rules of the Olympic Charter. The Charter says that everyone "must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind," and discrimination, including enforcing anti-gay laws, "is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic movement." 

  • "It's crazy that Putin wants to lock up rain for making rainbows," wrote LeGrisbi. 

If you made plans to go the Olympics in Sochi, would this affect your decision to go?

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