It’s certainly a Winter of discontent in Sochi

The Winter Olympic Games will take place in Sochi in Russia next week.
The Winter Olympic Games will take place in Sochi in Russia next week.
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International political leaders have chosen to protest silently by staying away from Russia but it’s too little too late.

The grand showpiece that is the Winter Olympics will arrive in the Black Sea coast city of Sochi next month but will any of those in charge be thinking about the incredulous treatment suffered by homosexual men and women in Russia on a daily basis?

Not only does Russia have an awful record when it comes to gay rights, the current government do not tolerate dissenters and if anyone proves troublesome they’re scooped up and put in a gulag quicker than you can say ‘perestroika’.

Russian leader, Vladimir Putin and his government, have gone on a charm offensive recently by releasing members of Russian feminist punk rock group, ‘Pussy Riot’ and Greenpeace activists who were arrested during an Arctic oil protest last year.

This is all fine and dandy but how can the International Olympic Committee (IOC) sit idly by and remain comfortable with the fact that a sport event of such international gravitas is taking place in a country that criminalises providing information about homosexuality to minors?

It’s utterly mind boggling that gay rights activists have to campaign for equality in a place like Russia.

What’s the big problem? Men have been having sex with men and women have been having sex with women for thousands of years.

Surely the important thing is that the relationship between two people is a loving and caring one? Who cares what gender they are?

What’s more frustrating about the decision of the IOC to award the Olympic Winter Games to Russia is their stance on athletes who use the event as a platform for political protest.

The IOC claims to support gays and lesbians being allowed to compete in Sochi but they’ve warned athletes that anyone who uses the Games to protest over Russia’s archaic laws could face sanctions or even disqualification.

The IOC have contradicted themselves and to be frank, look stupid. It’s ridiculous to say on one hand you are in support of gay and lesbian rights but on the other, if anyone attempts to try and further said cause using the Winter Games, they will be punished.

Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter states: “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”

Fighting for the rights of a maligned group of people is not propaganda.

It’s simply the right and humane thing to do.

Athletes competing in the Winter Games next month have spent months and years preparing for their respective event but the rights of human beings to live their lives without fear of discrimination or attack is much more important than winning any gold medal.

Quite frankly, I was embarrassed and angered when politicians, community leaders and everyday people living in the North of Ireland welcomed Vladimir Putin to the G8 Summit in Fermanagh last year.

Here was our chance to let a leader of one of the most powerful countries in the world know that because of his country’s treatment of gay men and women in Russia he wasn’t welcome.

It’ll certainly be cold in Sochi next month but for all of the wrong reasons!