News :: International

52 Olympic Athletes Urge Russia to Repeal Anti-Gay Law

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Thursday Jan 30, 2014
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Martina Navritalova
Martina Navritalova  (Source:AP )

More than 50 Olympic athletes have come together to urge Russian officials to repeal the country’s highly controversial "homosexual propaganda" law, which aims to ban "non-traditional" relationships on the grounds it will harm children, the British newspaper the Guardian reports.

Fifty-two athletes, including 12 athletes who will compete in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, criticized the International Olympic Committee and the sponsors of the Games for not doing more to urge the repeal of the law. The athletes signed the "principle six" campaign, which is named after the clause in the Olympic charger that guarantees no discrimination. Those athletes are, U.S.’s snowboarding gold medalist Seth Wescott, Canadian biathlete Rosanna Crawford (who will compete in Sochi in February) and the Australian four-man bobsled team.

Others who support the measure include tennis champs Martina Navratilova and Andy Roddick, former Leeds United soccer Robbie Rogers and four-time gold-medal-winning diver Greg Louganis. Navratilova, Rogers and Louganis are openly gay.

"As an athlete, as an American, and as a believer in equal rights and equal opportunity for everyone, I realized I needed to speak up because that’s not where we are today in sports," American rower Esther Lofgren, who won the gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics, told the Guardian. "The mission is to support all athletes to be themselves and be free to be athletes."

American Runner Nicky Symmonds, who has taken issue with Russia’s anti-gay law in the past, is also part of the campaign and said he felt inspired after watching footage of gay protesters being assaulted in Moscow.

"While there, I saw video of people being shoved to the street for expressing their love and the image bothered me very much," he told the newspaper. "I also spoke with members of the gay community in Russia who said they had been treated better under Soviet rule than they were currently being treated under Putin’s leadership, and wanted to lend my support in any way I could."

The 2014 Winter Olympics will start in Sochi in Feb. 7.

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