For Miami’s Russian Club and the LGBTQ support group Spectrum, the Olympic opening ceremonies are much more than just an international entertainment experience; they’re a platform for spreading awareness of the plight of homosexuals in Putin’s Russia, according to Keary Iarussi, Outreach Chair of the Russian Club.
The two groups will be hosting an event Feb. 6 to kick off the 2014 Winter Olympics-and bring together students from across campus to discuss and ask questions about the issue of homosexual rights across the globe.
“We would like to discuss the situation,” Iarussi said, “and the role of the Putin regime in it and fill in any gaps of misunderstanding.”
This year’s Olympics, to be hosted in Sochi, Russia Feb. 7-28, have drawn increasing international attention to the subject of international gay rights because of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent push for anti-gay legislation.. According to an article in the Washington Post, this legislation includes a ban on “propaganda of homosexualism among minors” and a ban educational materials advocating for homosexuality, among others.
Head of the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies, Karen Dawisha, said homosexual competitors are being restricted and restrained from expressing themselves at these Olympics.
“Though gay Olympic competitors will be permitted legally to compete,” Dawisha said, “the environment in Russia at the moment is homophobic and suggests that anyone caught expressing gay pride will be booed by the crowd.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been encouraging competitors to limit themselves from homosexual ousting, acting or inclinations. He said it is his goal to protect Russia’s culture from homosexuality, which he labeled a definitive cause for undermining the youth of Russia.
In an interview, Putin stated, “We do not ban anyone or anything, we don’t detain anyone on the street, but [we ask to] leave [the] children in peace. We have our own traditions, and our own culture.”
Spectrum’s marketing chair, Christian Carter, said he is hopeful the event, taking place 7-9 p.m. in 111 Harrisan Hall, will be well-attended.
“The goal of the event is not to protest the Olympics or Russia,” Carter said, “but to educate individuals about the controversy surrounding the event so they may draw their own conclusions.” Carter added, “Spectrum is focusing on advancing LGBTQA causes on campus while providing a safe environment for individuals who identify with or support the community.”