As Olympic athletes and journalists from around the world descend on Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Olympic Games, GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender media advocacy organization, wants the world to pay attention to Russia’s LGBT community.
GLAAD is out with its 2014 Winter Olympics Playbook, a resource guide for journalists and spokespeople covering the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. It provides story ideas and profiles of LGBT Russians to speak about Russia’s laws.
Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin said gay people have nothing to fear in Russia as long as they leave children alone.
During a question-and-answer session, one volunteer asked him about Russia’s attitudes toward gays, a subject that has provoked worldwide controversy, and Putin offered what apparently was meant to be a reassuring answer for visitors to the Olympics. “One can feel calm and at ease,” he said. “Just leave kids alone,
Recently during an interview with BBC, Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov of Sochi said of gay people: "We do not have them in our city."
GLAAD is working alongside international LGBT organizations and athletes to secure media coverage and spark a global dialogue about the stories of LGBT Russians.
"As all eyes turn to Sochi, it is critical that the media shine light not only on the anti-LGBT Russian policies, but on the real stories of the horrific persecution facing LGBT people and families in Russia. These families cannot be kept invisible any longer," said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a prepared statement.
For several months, GLAAD has also been working with gay, lesbian and transgender Russians as well as U.S.-based Russian LGBT advocacy organization RUSA LGBT, to ensure that the stories of LGBT Russians are prominently featured across mainstream media outlets.
George Takei, Melissa Etheridge and Dustin Lance Black are among the celebrities GLAAD is making available as potential interviews. There are also several former Russian journalists and TV personalities who were fired or who are currently seeking asylum in the U.S. because of the harsh and unfair treatment of gays and lesbians in Russia.
For more information about GLAAD's ongoing work to build support for equality in Russia and abroad, visit http://glaad.org/russia.