A protest is to be held tomorrow at an exhibition in London promoting Russia’s Winter Olympics at Sochi after Pride House events celebrating gay inclusion in sport were banned.
The Sochi.Park exhibition in Kensington Gardens, London will become the site of a protest about the country’s anti-gay regional laws and refusal to allow a meeting space for gay athletes and sport fans at the 2014 event.
The first Pride House was created for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
London’s own Pride House, the first for a Summer Olympics, was reformed at the last minute after funding problems meant its first incarnation had to be cancelled.
In March of this year, a Krasnodar judge ruled that Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics could not have a Pride House event because, according to the Moscow Times, the court viewed fighting homophobia as “immoral”.
Svetlana Mordovina ruled that the LGBT inclusion events “contradict the basics of public morality and the policy of the state in the area of family motherhood and childhood protection”.
Many Russian regions have passed laws in recent years criminalising the “promotion” of homosexuality around minors, so-called ‘gay propaganda’ laws which threaten freedom of expression and gay gatherings in public spaces.
The judge ruled that Pride House would lead to “propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation which can undermine the security of Russian society and the state, [and] provoke social-religious hatred, which is the feature of the extremist character of the activity”.
She also suggested it could threaten Russia’s population levels.
London’s Pride House is supporting the protest tomorrow, along with Pride Sports (UK), The European Gay & Lesbian Sport Federation, The Federation of Gay Games, The Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association, the Peter Tatchell Foundation and OutRage!.
Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation said: “London 2012 has a LGBT Pride House but Russia won’t allow it at Sochi. This is part of an official crackdown on LGBT communities and visibility in Russia.
“It is an attack on freedom of expression and association. We are urging the IOC to intervene. This ban is contrary to the equality and non-discrimination provisions of the Olympic Charter.”
The Sochi.Park exhibition is described by Russian authorities as “a high-tech, digital winter wonderland which features a spectacular Ice Arena where you can discover Sochi, the next Winter Olympic host city” and “where Russia greets the world!”.