CREDIT: AP Photo/David Goldman
In the lead up to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the United Nations has taken multiple steps to condemn Russia’s law banning “gay propaganda.” Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon set the tone addressing the International Olympic Committee’s general assembly, condemning any policies or practices that discriminate against the LGBT community:
BAN: Many professional athletes, gay and straight, are speaking out against prejudice. We must all raise our voices against attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people. We must oppose the arrests, imprisonments and discriminatory restrictions they face.
The United Nations stands strongly behind our own “free and equal” campaign, and I look forward to working with the IOC, governments and other partners around the world to build societies of equality and tolerance. Hatred of any kind must have no place in the 21st century.
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Ban drove the point home at another IOC press conference:
BAN: I know that there has been some controversy over this issue. At the same time, I appreciate President Putin for his assurance that there will be no discrimination whatsoever and that people with different sexual orientations are welcome to compete and enjoy these Olympic Games.
As I have been repeatedly and consistently stating in the spirit and framework of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that everybody is born free and equal and everybody has a right to be equal, regardless of age, and sex, and sexual orientation, and gender identity. This is a fundamental principle of human rights.
This week, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child also condemned Russia’s anti-gay laws, noting that censoring LGBT issues from children will only serve to stigmatize LGBT children:
The Committee is … concerned at the recent developments in the legislation of the State party prohibiting “propaganda of unconventional sexual relationship,” generally with the intent of protecting children, which however encourages stigmatization of and discrimination against LGBTI persons, including children, and children of LGBTI families.
The Committee is particularly concerned that vague definitions of propaganda lead to the targeting and ongoing persecution of the country’s LGBTI community, including abuse and violence, in particular against underage LGBTI rights activists.
It remains unclear how the “gay propaganda” law will or won’t be enforced during the Olympics, but Russian lawmakers and media have defended it, claiming that it protects children.