Activists confronted one of the gay athletes selected to represent the US in Sochi last night, demanding he speak out against Russia’s recently enacted anti-LGBT laws.
Three-time Olympian Brian Boitano, who only came out in December, is one of three openly gay men and women chosen by President Barack Obama for the US Olympic delegation, was appearing at New York’s Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea. During his introduction, Tim McHenry, the Rubin’s director of public programs and performance, spoke about how Boitano had become ‘a courageous champion of human rights and artists.’
But protestor Duncan Osbourne interrupted with: ‘When did he do that and what is it that he said?
‘He’s going to a country with a record of abusing human rights, especially the rights of gay men and women, and he has yet to speak out about it.’
Boitano has as yet said nothing against Russia’s anti-LGBT laws, instead insisting that athletes and spectators respect the laws of the country they will be visiting. Tennis great Billie Jean King, who has also been chosen to represent the US in Sochi, has been vocal about her disapproval of the Russian laws.
‘Stand up and tell us what you are going to do what are you going to say in Russia,’ yelled Jamie Bauer, the other protester from Queer Nation. Boitano remained seated and silent and refused to acknowledge the protesters.
The audience was uniformly hostile to the protesters, and many booed. Two audience members attempted to remove Osborne but backed away when he threatened to have them arrested. The two Queer Nationals were eventually led peacefully out of the room by security guards.
In June, the Russian government enacted legislation that effectively bans any pro-LGBT statement in public or private and on the internet. In July, a law banning adoptions of Russian children by people from any jurisdiction that allows same sex marriage took effect.
A second recently enacted law bars adoption of Russian children by anyone living in a jurisdiction that allows same sex marriage. The Russian parliament recently proposed legislation that would allow the government to remove children from a household headed by a gay or lesbian parent. While that legislation has been withdrawn ahead of the Olympics, activists believe the parliament will reintroduce it after the Games are over.