Senator to introduce resolution demanding LGBT protections from the International Olympic Committee

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Senator Jeff Merkley plans to introduce a Senate resolution demanding that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) oppose Russia’s anti-LGBT propaganda law and ensure that participants and attendees are not discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity at the Sochi Winter games. 

The announcement of the Senator’s proposal comes after Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko stated that the country’s anti-LGBT laws would be upheld in an interview with R-Sport. This contradicts a prior statement made by the IOC that the organization had received assurances “from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.”

The exact language of Senator Merkley’s resolution is still being finalized and will not be formally introduced until the Senate returns from its August recess. 

Merkley tweeted: “Outrageous. Olympic discrimination against LGBT athletes and spectators is 100% unacceptable.”

This resolution will mark the Senate’s first official statement concerning the events in Russia and the controversy surrounding the upcoming winter games since Putin signed the propaganda legislation in June. 

“With increasing attention being paid to Russia’s deplorable treatment of LGBT people, we applaud Senator Merkley and efforts in Congress to shine a spotlight on this issue and the cloud that hangs over the Sochi Olympic Games,” Human Rights Campaign spokesman Michael Cole-Schwartz said in an interview with BuzzFeed. 

Russia’s Mutko went on to say that “No one is forbidding an athlete with non-traditional sexual orientation from coming to Sochi, but if he goes onto the street and starts propagandizing it, then of course he will be held accountable.  As a sportsman, he should respect the law of a country. Come [to Sochi], but don’t get young people involved, don’t make propaganda. This is what we are talking about.” 

The anti-propoganda legislation allows for the 15-day jailing of foreigners and fines both foreginers and Russians convicted of “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations among minors.” 

HRC’s vice president for communications, Fred Sainz, told BuzzFeed that, “The opinion of the Russian government is now perfectly clear: if you’re gay and you come to Russia for the Olympics, you will be in harm’s way.”

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