Earlier this month Svetlana Mordovina, a Russian judge, upheld a decision by Russian authorities to block the organization of a Pride House at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
The athlete’s villages at each Olympic Games include places for athletes , their families, and officials to socialize such as a U.S.A. House, Canadian Pavilion, Holland House, etc. Inspired by the success of the first-ever Pride House at the 2010 Vancouver Games and the inclusion of a Pride House in the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, Russian LGBT groups planned a similar venue for their nation’s games. However, last year the Russian Ministry of Justice refused to process the registration paperwork required to officially authorize a Pride House. Mordovina’s ruling upheld the refusal, casting it as a decision between good and evil and bizarrely citing a need to protect children, the family, and Russian sovereignty:
‘The aims of the organization contradict the basics of public morality and the policy of the state in the area of family motherhood and childhood protection. The activities of the [Pride House] movement leads to propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation which can undermine the security of the Russian society and the state, provoke social-religious hatred, which is the feature of the extremist character of the activity. Moreover it can undermine the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation due to the decrease of Russia’s population.
Such aims as creating an understanding of the necessity to fight against homophobia and the creation of positive attitudes towards LGBT sportsmen contradicts with the basics of public morality because they are directed towards the increase of the number of citizens of sexual minorities which breaches the understanding of good and evil, good and bad, vice and virtue.’
Unfortunately, the International Olympic Committee squandered its opportunity to stand up for the rights and dignity of all Olympic athletes and their families, gay and straight alike, by speaking out forcefully against the decision to ban the 2014 Pride House. Instead, last week it issued a tepid statement in response to the ban that stopped well short of any direct criticism of Russian authorities. An IOC spokesperson commented, “The Olympic Charter does not allow for discrimination against those taking part in the games. The IOC is an open organisation and athletes of all orientations will be welcome at the games.”
It’s a nice way to save face, but the sad truth is that the absence of a Pride House will make the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia a little less welcoming for LGBT Olympic officials, athletes, coaches, family members, and friends.