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The Olympic War Games Sochi, Gay Rights and the Afghanistan Connection

A huge puzzle waiting to be solved

By: Steve Thresher  |@steventhreher
 on 10th February 2014 @ 1.10pm
in 1885 britain passed laws criminalising all sexual activity between males and it wasn t much fun before that  © Creative Press
In 1885 Britain passed laws criminalising all sexual activity between males and it wasn't much fun before that!

It is a puzzle this sudden prominence of gay rights within international
politics.  Stop and think about it. Both the President of the US and the
Prime Minister of Great Britain have taken the time to go on record to
express offense at the homophobic laws of another nation! It is more than a little surprising.  It is an astonishing turn of events.

In 1885 Britain passed laws criminalizing all sexual activity between males
and it wasn't much fun before that!  Gay sex was decriminalized (with
restrictions) in 1967.  In 1989 Britain passed 'section 28'.  Local Authorities (and schools) were prohibited from promoting homosexuality. 

Unsurprisingly this was seen as a worrying retrograde step by gay right activists. Yet, even while 'section 28' was on the statute books these sam activists managed to chip away much of the remaining anti-gay inequalities in British law. 2003 and 'section 28' is repealed. 25 years after 'section 28' and it is same-sex marriage all around with the leaders of the free world turned pro-gay warriors fighting the sinister homophobic bully, President Putin. Truly, an astonishing turn of events!

Prior to the soviet era, Russia has a relatively young history of legal
prohibitions relating to homoerotic acts.  Stalin outlawed male homosexuality in 1933 (allegedly to thwart gay fascist counterrevolutionaries). Russian gays had to wait until 1993 before they could legally enjoy intimate company - only about 26 years after Britain. In 2013 President Putin passed laws that have been compared to 'section 28'. So, if the UK is a model, we can expect gay marriage in Russia before 2040 and that's pretty good going for a country that includes regions like Chechnya and Dagestan! The Olympics last went to Russia in 1980.  Those were also controversial games.  The US led the largest ever boycott of an Olympic games. Not because of Russia's anti-gay laws but because the Soviet Army was embroiled in Afghanistan! Just think about that for a minute - The US persuaded dozens of countries to boycott Moscow 1980 because of the Soviet-Afghan war.

The high hypocrisy of high politics: the US was not outraged with the actions of the Soviets.  It had been their plan and hope that the Soviet Army would go to the aid of Afghanistan's socialist government; where a US backed international army of Muslim fighters would strike Holy War upon the atheist empire.

the opening ceromony at sochi winter olympics 2014 © Creative Press
The opening ceromony at Sochi Winter Olympics 2014

Is the Presidential outrage any more genuine in 2014?  Is it any less political? Gay rights are more than what the law happens to be.  It is a battle that has to take place in hearts and minds and, despite legal victories and public opinion polls, it is clear that the battle is far from won - even in Britain - and it is not clear that Madonna and Lady Gaga will be successful in their endeavour to appeal to the hearts and minds of Russian anti-gay thugs. If we want to look elsewhere for signs of high hypocrisy; why is the only concern for 2022 Qatar World Cup, will the players get too hot to run around?  That Qatar's sodomy laws seem like something out of pre-1967 England hardly scratches the surface of the reasons to be critical of Qatar society.

Sporting events aside - celebrities and politicians seem less interested in expressing outrage at the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan's, recent
very anti-gay laws (or the treatment of gay asylum seekers to the UK) and, as shocking as the Russian anti-gay gangs are, terrible violence happens to lesbians and gays every day in countries all around the world. In fact, everyday lots of innocent people are subject to the most horrific violence and not a small number are Afghan children blown to little bits and pieces by US attack drones.  Protest that next time, you famous Hollywood

It seems clear that the gay rights movement has been high-jacked for political purposes - even if it is right to be concerned about Russia's anti-gay laws and even if Sochi is the right platform for protest.  This high-jacking is broader than an attempt to embarrass Russia during her moment of glory but that is another story.

Russia's new law can rightful be seen as a terribly homophobic development
but all-in-all it is not as bad as vaporizing babies from the safety of predator drones.  But that's warfare! Yes, and so was Moscow 1980.  Sochi 2014?

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tags: Sochi | Gay

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