On the morning of Wednesday, January 29, the human rights activist organization Amnesty International held a protest outside of the Russian embassy in central London in an artistic and unusual form—a Russian ballet performance.
A response to Putin’s homophobic laws against the propagation of homophobia toward minors passed in June, the protest came just nine days prior to the start of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Four dancers, two female and two male, danced in front of the press and other activists to Tchaikovsky’s “Song of the Swans” from “Swan Lake, ”one of Russia’s most well-known ballets. All wore white, swan-inspired costumes festooned with feathers and the words, “Proud to Protest.” After the demonstration, Amnesty activists handed in a 10,000-signature petition against Russia’s homophobic legislation.
Since the anti-gay laws were passed, the Sochi Olympics, set to begin on February 7, have caused major uproar among activists and LGBT people, many of which urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to change the location of the games. However, IOC President Thomas Bach remains confident that no LGBTA spectators or visiting athletes will be prosecuted or harmed by the Russian government.
When asked if concern over the Olympics keeps him up at night, Bach reaffirmed his assurance by telling reporters he’s “sleeping very well.”
“Sorry to tell you I’m sleeping very well,” Bach said on Monday, January 27. “Fear is a very bad advisor. I am really looking forward to first Winter Games under my presidency. I’m very confident they will be very successful.”
The games will run through February 23. Among government leaders, neither President Obama nor Prime Minister David Cameron will be attending; Cameron reportedly told the press on Wednesday that his decision is not based on Russia’s stance on gay rights. Meanwhile, President Obama selected a delegation comprised entirely of gay former Olympians to attend in his stead—an unspoken but bold statement.