Gold medal-winning diver Matthew Mitcham is the latest athlete to slam the new gay Russian laws recently signed off by President Vladimir Putin in June. As reported by Fox Sports on August 3, Mitcham slams the anti-gay laws and feel that Russia’s treatment of gay people is “horrific”.
As an athlete who has competed in Olympic competition, Mitcham feels that the Olympic Games should be a place where individuals can go and compete no matter their gender and sexuality. He is referring to Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly L. Mutko’s announcement that athletes traveling to Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Stochi will be persecuted if they do not obey their new laws.
Under the law, any form of expression in which the Russian government feels is the promotion of “gay propaganda” will be fined and face jail time. These forms of expression include wearing rainbow pins or T-shirts, waving gay pride flags or even public displays of affection with someone of the same sex. Mitcham feels the enforcement of the law will take away from the experience of the Olympics.
“The Olympics is the best experience you will ever have as an athlete. Their whole memory and experience is going to be marred by this stuff. They are going to be made to feel unacceptable, inappropriate, and it is a really awful, awful feeling. The Olympics are supposed to be somewhere where they can go to be relieved of that feeling”
The law itself has outraged many gay rights activists and has inspired protests and boycotts of Russian brand products. Athletes have considered boycotting the Olympics but many feel being there will serve more purpose.
Mutko’s announcement that all athletes are expected to obey the law comes after assurances to the International Olympic Committee that legislations “will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.”