‘To me, love for another person is the most beautiful thing in the world, and that’s what they (nails) want to show, no matter the gender or whatever. For me sport is about respect and unity, so it felt like the perfect opportunity to show what I think’ Emma Green-Tregaro
Emma, a Swedish high-jump athlete, said the above this week at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow about her decision to paint her nails in rainbow colours in respect for LGBT pride.
Protests have been made against the 2014 Russian Winter Olympics, due to the laws introduced in June making it illegal for under- 18’s to receive information about homosexuality and for displays of homosexuality to be seen in public. Stephen Fry’s open letter to David Cameron is an example of such statements. You can read it here.
Backlash has been felt from the Russian community with Yelena Isinbayeva, Russian high-jumper, commenting that,’It’s disrespectful to our country, disrespectful to our citizens because we are Russians, maybe we are different than European people and people from different lands. We have our law which everyone has to respect’
I personally find it incredible that homosexuality is still treated the way that it is. We are not heterosexual by default and choose to be alternative, we are who we are. Whether doctors, journalists or athletes.
If the Olympics is to celebrate equality in sport, we need to think seriously about the countries who are hosting it and whether they can promote fairness. That’s not to say that the United Kingdom is a perfect country, but the London Olympics 2013 welcomed all and we need to uphold sport’s ability to unite people against discrimination.
Comments on the internet are ranging from support for Russia to absolute outrage. Many are saying ‘when in Rome’, which I agree with to a certain extent. On a recent visit to Dubai I abided by the alcohol laws, but that’s a lifestyle choice not changing my nature.
Others have said ‘don’t go’ or ‘don’t hold hands in public’. It’s their job and a huge international sporting event, they are jeopardising their careers if they don’t go. Yes, people don’t need to shout their sexuality from the rooftops and should respect a country’s laws, but when those laws are seemingly discriminatory should we not show discontent whether gay or straight?
Obama and Cameron have both said to boycott would make the situation worse, that we must go and show Russia that we are proud of our gay athletes and that equal rights isn’t a question but a necessity. It’s a very tricky situation for the International Olympic Committee now and it will be interesting to see how it develops.
This afternoon two Russian female athletes have kissed on the podium when receiving their medals at the championships, whether a political gesture or not, I think it will just be the beginning.
There has been reassurance from the Russian government that the laws will not impact the Olympics, but you have to ask yourself, if you were in these athlete’s position, just trying to do your job, how comfortable would you feel competing there?