After years of repression by the defunct Soviet Union, the Russian Orthodox Church is extracting their revenge by promoting repressive civil liberty legislation in their new democratic environment. Patriarch Kirill has been supportive of the Russian Duma to pass, and President Putin to sign, legislation restricting the civil rights of gays and lesbians to fly the rainbow flag, organize Pride parades or speak out for equality. (Russian Orthodox Patriarch Calls Gay Marriage Legalization ‘Apocalyptic Symptom’ )This egregious law, born of bigotry and fear, must be brought to the world’s attention by boycotting the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
Russian politicians pander to Russian Orthodox Church
A democracy only works if the voters elect men and women of intellect and courage willing to protect their constitution. In the case of Russia, their politicians have been infected by the same virus that is present in the U.S. democratic system; politicians pander to the lowest common denominator to get re-elected (Russian Lawmakers Pass Anti-Gay Bill in 436-0 Vote). Consequently, legislators in the Duma will vote for laws that are in direct conflict with basic civil rights and their own constitution as long as those repressive laws are popular with an ignorant electorate blindly following archaic religious doctrine.
Chapter 2. Rights and Freedoms of Man and Citizen
1. All people shall be equal before the law and court.
2. The State shall guarantee the equality of rights and freedoms of man and citizen, regardless of sex, race, nationality, language, origin, property and official status, place of residence, religion, convictions, membership of public associations, and also of other circumstances. All forms of limitations of human rights on social, racial, national, linguistic or religious grounds shall be banned.
3. Man and woman shall enjoy equal rights and freedoms and have equal possibilities to exercise them.
Putin: benevolent dictator
President Putin realizes that his country has little to celebrate and be proud about. A despot stays in power by intimidation and feeding the people nationalistic rhetoric. Laws restricting the freedoms of a minority feeds the larger population’s desire to feel superior and in control. The Russian people have been robbed of opportunities to better their lives from a crumbling Soviet era economy and corrupt government.
Russian Orthodox Church rises to Tsar level
Outside the realm of the inefficient communist legacy economy and the new oligarchs running the government, the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) has been a resurgent beacon of hope for the majority of Russian Christians. Unfortunately, the ROC believes they should resume their theocratic relationship and an early 20th century cultural norm before the Tsar was killed in the revolution.
Disastrous religious influence in RussiaThe Russian Tsar and his family followed the religious inspiration and advice of Rasputin.
Putin seems to have fallen under the spell of Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church much like Tsar Nicholas II was mesmerized by Rasputin. In both instances, religious leaders are giving disastrous advice to political leaders. Although, to Putin’s credit, he is using the ROC to feed the people a diet of cultural intolerance in order to heighten their sense of happiness in a dreary and corrupt Russia.
Will the cleansing of gays be next in Russia?
Theologically inspired restrictions of civil rights placed upon a minority are the first steps before ethnic or religious cleansing. We saw it in Nazi Germany, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and many other countries were religious fervor is allowed to flourish. These laws also give inferred tacit approval for right wing ultra-nationalists to abuse and terrorize gay and lesbian people. (Russian Neo Nazi torture gay teenager). Even though the Olympic Committee assures gay athletes they’ll be safe, demonstrators for equality and gay rights have been pelted with eggs and rocks. The only logical reasons for the restrictions on speech and assembly in Russia are to feed the fear and hysteria stoked by the ROC which takes the citizen’s gaze off the horrid economic state of the Russian Federation.This woman would be arrested in Russia for her pre-natal rainbow flag.
Entertainment, profit over civil rights
The Winter Olympics in Sochi are a perfect venue to educate Russians that they have been duped by their religious and political leaders. The modern world doesn’t fear free speech and assembly but embraces tolerance and inclusion. Pope Francis has called for gays to be integrated into society instead of ostracized. Even NBC who will be broadcasting the Sochi Games has recognized the repressiveness of the Russian Federation, ‘Homosexual Propaganda’ law signals latest Russian crackdown. The boycott message will have the highest volume if governments, athletes, corporations and fans completely avoid the Sochi Olympic Games. To patronize the Olympic Games while Russia maintains such egregious civil rights restrictions is tantamount to saying, “Yeah, I know my neighbor beats his wife and kids, but he is a heck of a golf buddy and I wouldn’t want to give that up.”
Do Putin and Patriach Kirill want another Great Purge?
While bars in West Hollywood join a boycott of Stoli brand vodka made with Russian ingredients, this won’t be enough of a signal that a modern country like the Russian Federation has strayed from the recognition that all individuals have inalienable rights. Perhaps one of the first calls for a boycott of the Winter Olympics came from Harvey Fierstein in a Facebook post calling for people to wake up to the legislated discrimination against gays taking place in Russia. It will take a vocal world population to provide Russia with the clear message that they are being led down a path of cultural repression like so many of their relatives that died under Stalin’s Great Purge.
Social media can spread the Boycott Russian Olympics message
At a minimum, we should not watch any televised portion of the games on NBC. The next step would be to identify those products being advertised and voice our concerns to those companies about how their dollars are going to a country that represses the freedoms of their LGBTQI community. We need to make it very clear through social media, letters to our elected leaders and sponsors of the Olympic Games in Sochi that we will not support any host country that works to restrict the basic civil liberties and human rights that all men and women were born with.
August 1, 2013
Associated Press: Russia will enforce anti-gay law during Olympics
Russia is going backwards, not forwards. I know people are willing to look the other way because in their words, “The Olympics for the athletes who have trained their whole life…they shouldn’t be punished.” So it is permissible to punish the citizens of the Russian Federation for expressing their free speech rights about equality and pride?
The Olympic Games are a flash cube moment in a person’s life. The fear of being arrested for expressing who you are is a long term psychological crushing experience.
Sacramento immigrants from Russia and Latvia discuss the social issues leading to the ant-gay legislation.