Over 100 Canadian organizations stand up for Russian LGBT rights

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      More than 100 Canadian organizations have banded together to call for specific Canadian action on human rights abuses in Russia.

      The organizations signed an open letter dated August 22 that is addressed to the Canadian government, the Canadian and International Olympic and Paralympic Committees, Sochi Olympics corporate sponsors (including Coca-Cola, GE, McDonald's, Panasonic, Visa, and more), and the CBC (as Sochi 2014 media broadcaster).

      The letter is in response to Russian legislation which bans "gay propaganda" and prevents anyone from defending LGBT rights in Russia.

      The list of signatories includes Vancouver-based organizations such as the BC Civil Liberties Association, BC Coalition of People with Disabilities, Our City of Colours, Pacific AIDS Network, Positive Living Society of British Columbia, Vancouver AIDS Society, West Coast Women's Legal Education and Action, YouthCO HIV and Hep C Society, and more.

      Canadian opposition to Russian antigay legislation has been steadily increasing and joining in the international backlash against Russia.

      West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert expressed his concerns about and position against the laws on July 25 on News 1130. Both Chandra Herbert and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, while speaking with media in Vancouver on the same day, said they are calling upon the Canadian government to do more to defend human rights.

      Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson followed shortly thereafter by issuing a statement on July 26 expressing his alarm about the laws in relation to the Olympics and violence against LGBT people in Russia. 

      On August 1, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird decried the legislation, calling it "hateful".

      Prime Minister Stephen Harper followed up on August 9 by stating that Canadians expect the government to stand up for human rights.

      On August 22, the Russian government assured the International Olympic Committee that the controversial Russian law will not affect athletes or spectators at Sochi 2014. However, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak defended the law by stating that it does not specifically target homosexual people but anyone who promotes "non-traditional sexual relationships".

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at twitter.com/cinecraig. You can also follow the Straight's LGBT coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/StraightLGBT.



      Gary K

      Aug 23, 2013 at 6:32pm

      They won't care what these organizations have to say. On the other hand, they might bend over back words if the Games Sponsors say anything, like Coke, etc.

      Lawrence Hearn

      Aug 24, 2013 at 8:47am

      The Russian law actually only bans 'propaganda' to minors. I suspect US agents provocateurs are behind these attacks on Russia as part of Barack the Bomber's retaliation at Russia for not turning Edward Snowden over to the American secret police and their torturers.


      Aug 25, 2013 at 6:48am

      Why has this become an Olympic issue. The mandate of the Olympics is to have games not protests for gay rights. I agree with Russia. There is a time and place for a protest as this if one wants but not at the Olympics. It is not up to the Olympics to judge or favor propaganda for who sleeps with who. Wrong venue.