The international backlash to Russia's adoption of antigay legislation in June and July has been steadily mounting.
In June, the U.S.–based Russian queer activist group RUSA LGBT called for a boycott of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
On July 17, the International Olympic Committee released a statement reaffirming its commitment to ensuring the Olympics are free from discrimination based on sexual orientation.
From the world of arts and entertainment, actor Tilda Swinton and British indie band Autoheart created visual and musical protests. Actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times, noting that "Russia's president, Vladimir V. Putin, has declared war on homosexuals" but "so far, the world has mostly been silent".
Four Dutch tourists, who were making a documentary about gay rights in Russia but were arrested in Murmansk, Russia, on July 21 for alleged "gay propaganda", were released on July 22.
On July 24, Savage Love columnist Dan Savage called for a boycott of Russian vodka to counter "Putin's anti-gay pogrom". Numerous Vancouver bars which serve LGBT clientele—including the Fountainhead Pub, the Cobalt, Oasis, Celebrities, Score, and the Pumpjack—have joined the boycott by refusing to serve Russian vodka. (Stoli vodka returned to state ownership in 2002.)
Meanwhile, the mayor of Reykjavik wants to sever the sister-city relationship between the Icelandic capital and Moscow.
Joining in the international criticism, on July 26, Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson issued the following statement expressing his concern about the Winter Olympics in Sochi and Russia's antigay laws.
“As host Mayor of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, I have been alarmed to learn of further discriminatory legislation and violent actions targeting the LGBTQ community in Russia ahead of the upcoming 2014 Games in Sochi.”
“It is my firm belief that the Olympic and Paralympic Games should be fully and unequivocally open to all athletes, officials, spectators and journalists who are able to participate, regardless of their nationality, gender, or sexual orientation. It is clear to me that the Russian parliament’s homophobic assault on the fundamental human rights of the LGBTQ community will prevent many of these individuals from safely and openly participating in Sochi.
“As we welcomed the world for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, we were proud to have the opportunity to showcase the diversity, acceptance, and freedoms that make Vancouver such a vibrant place to live and visit. We were also proud to feature the first Pride House at any Olympic Games, which provided a safe space and resource centre for LGBTQ athletes, coaches, spectators and other visitors. I am dismayed to see this important progress rolled back ahead of the next Olympics in Sochi.
“I would like to join the millions worldwide who are calling upon Russia to end its violent crackdown on the human rights and free expression of the LGBTQ community ahead of hosting the world in Sochi. I am also calling upon the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee to urgently explore every possible option to ensure that the next Olympic and Paralympic Games are hosted in a manner that guarantees the full, safe, and open participation of the LGBTQ community.”
The mayor will make an official Vancouver Pride Week proclamation on Monday (July 29) at Vancouver City Hall.