Despite verbal and diplomatic condemnation from the West, a Russian law that warns against the discussion of non-traditional sexual relationships has given anti-gay campaigners a legal justification for criminal activity, say international rights advocates. “The law, signed by President Vladimir V. Putin in June, has ignited international condemnation and blindsided the Kremlin with the sort of toxic political controversy that officials had desperately hoped to avoid ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.” Despite its international profile and metropolitan cities, Russia is a place where anti-gay behavior is still tolerated.
What’s the Big Idea?
Adding to international pressure on Russia is the country’s ambition to host international sporting and business events, such as the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, and its bid for the World Cup in 2018 and World Expo in 2020. “Critics say Russia’s repression of gay rights is part of a pattern that also includes a tightening of pressure on civil society groups, and steps to limit foreign influences — all seemingly out of sync with Russia’s push to host international events.” Some groups have already organized a boycott of Russian vodka, with others eyeing the Sochi Olympics as a target.