How Olympic Sponsors and the IOC Could Have Stopped Russia's Anti-Gay Law - And Didn't

Huffington Post
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August 12, 2013
Issues: 

The ugly truth about Russia's law against gay "propaganda," now the subject of worldwide protests and boycotts, is coming into view. And that includes the role of American companies sponsoring the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, as well that of the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee, in allowing the heinous law to get passed.

The law, passed in early June of this year and signed by Vladimir Putin on June 30, didn't just come out of nowhere. It worked its way up the legislative chain over a long period of time, beginning in the provinces, where similar local laws were passed as far back as 2006, and following on several years of crackdowns against LGBT activists and against pride parades in Moscow, St. Petersburg and elsewhere.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) notes that before Sochi was chosen for the 2014 games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other stakeholders, including American multinational sponsors of the Winter Olympics, as well as NBC Universal, which has the broadcast contract, carefully tracked the path of the legislation, which is a clear violation of the Olympic Charter.

"This piece of legislation worked its way up through the legislative system," Minky Worden, HRW's Director of Global Initiatives, told me in an interview (listen to the full interview below). "The International Olympic Committee, the United States Olympic Committee, the so-called top corporate sponsors -- Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Procter & Gamble -- these companies all, as [HRW] did, tracked the progress of this law."