The passage of Putin's bill banning the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors" has kicked off a storm of anti-gay violence and diverse responses to it, from calls to boycott Russian vodka and move the Olympics to a disclaimer from Russia's Sports Minister that all the noise is "an invented problem" stemming from a law that is simply about "protecting the rights of children."
In the most stunning rebuke to the notion there is no problem here, actor and activist Stephen Fry wrote a fiery open letter to David Cameron recalling that the 1936 Berlin Olympics likewise opened "under the exultant aegis of a tyrant who had passed into law an act which singled out for special persecution a minority whose only crime was the accident of their birth." Noting that sport and politics are intimately entwined - "politics," he notes, is simply Greek for "to do with the people" - he slams the current violence against "the hopes of millions of Russians, those not in the grip of that toxic mix of shaven headed thuggery and bigoted religion."
If you can stand to see that thuggery in action, here are horrific tales of gay life in Russia, and a newly surfaced video of a transgender woman being assaulted in a park by five guys, one of whom filmed the attack because, you know, it was so cool. Warning: graphic.
And that picture on the front of two women athletes that many thought was a protest against the law? Not, says one, who calls the interpretation "sick fantasies." So there's a way to go here.
"Every time in Russia (and it is constantly) a gay teenager is forced into suicide, a lesbian 'correctively' raped, gay men and women beaten to death by neo-Nazi thugs while the Russian police stand idly by, the world is diminished and I for one, weep anew at seeing history repeat itself." - Fry