While Vladimir Putin may have no interest in LGBT people having a place at the Olympics in Sochi, Pride House International may have found its own way of promoting gay rights.
Their intention is to overcome the ban on a Pride House to work with national houses at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. That way, there could be a Pride House to promote LGBT diversity in sport and sneak past Russia’s choice to not have an official one at their event.
Lou Englefield, coordinator for Pride House International, explained: ‘Various National Olympic Committees traditionally create a venue to promote their national teams and offer hospitality for officials, athletes, and fans.
‘We are in discussions with a few such national houses for them to offer one or more days or evenings of programming in line with the tradition of past Pride Houses.’
Pride House International is seeking funding from corporate and non-profit entities to allow for this complex project to be implemented.
Keph Sennett, part of the Pride House International leadership group, said their intention was not to protest against Russia’s anti-gay laws. After all, all protests and rallies are expressly banned under Russian law during the Sochi Games.
‘We’re not planning a demonstration,’ she said. ‘The content of Pride House is not political, unless you consider that calls for sport open to all, for freedom from discrimination in sport, for freedom of expression and assembly are political.
‘Since these values are found in the Olympic Charter and the governing documents of the International Paralympic Committee, we think that a place where they are honoured and respected should be very welcome at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.’
When PHI applied to the authorities, a Pride House a Sochi was prohibited.
The ban was upheld by a judge on the basis of the Pride House inciting ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation which can undermine the security of the Russian society and the state, provoke social-religious hatred, which is the feature of the extremist character of the activity.’
There are currently 99 days until Sochi hosts the Olympic Games in February 2014.
(Source: Gay Star News, 30 Oct 2013)