The Winter Olympics are swiftly approaching, and many are still concerned over the possible consequences of holding them in Russia, where anti-gay laws were passed just this last June.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird sent a letter to the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergay Lavrov, urging the country to end its discrimination not just during the games, but for good.
“In the leadup to Sochi, Canada remains concerned about the legislation passed in June 2013 that places a ban on the ‘propagandizing of non-traditional sexual relations among minors,’” Baird wrote in his letter, according to a copy posted by the Toronto Star.
While Russian authorities, including President Vladimir Putin himself, have claimed that LGBT athletes and spectators will not be affect or harmed by the law, Baird believes the same courtesy should be extended to Russia’s own LGBT citizens.
“We encourage the Russian Federation to extend to all its citizens—as well as foreign visitors—full human rights protections, including freedom from violence, harassment or discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
The American delegation for the Winter Olympic games will feature three openly gay athletes: former tennis champion Billie Jean King, Olympic figure-skater Brian Boitano, and Olympic ice hockey player Caitlin Cahow.
President Obama himself will not be attending the games. He told reporters, “I think the delegation speaks for itself.”
He added, “When it comes to the Olympics and athletic performance, we do not make distinctions on the basis of sexual orientation…We judge people on how they perform, both on the court and off the court, on the field and off the field.”
Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, will also not be attending the games. He has yet to appoint a delegation.