In a press release posted to Facebook today, The Russian LGBT Network responded to recent calls for the boycott of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Gamesin support of LGBT Russians and disapproval of the nation's recently enacted anti-gay laws that make it a crime in Russia to spread "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors."
Echoing the calls of others including Patrick Burke, co-founder of the You Can Play Campaign, The Russian LGBT Network urges athletes and nations not to walk out on Sochi but rather to use the games as an opportunity to highlight the oppressive acts of the Putin regime and issue a clarion call for international action in support of LGBT rights:
"We believe that calls for the spectators to boycott Sochi, for the Olympians to retreat from competition, and for governments, companies, and national Olympic committees to withdraw from the event risk to transform the powerful potential of the Games in a less powerful gesture that would prevent the rest of the world from joining LGBT people, their families and allies in Russia in solidarity and taking a firm stance against the disgraceful human rights record in this country.
In retrospect, the record of the Olympic boycotts is not utterly promising in regards the potential to bring a change; look at the 1980 boycott of the Moscow Olympics, the 1984 "retaliation" boycott of the LA Games, or at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. What is remembered from 1968 is neither the number nor the names of those who boycotted the Games, but the "human rights salute" by Tommie Smith and John Carlos who rose black-gloved fists and bowed their heads on the victory stand as a sign of resistance to racial injustice and solidarity with everyone who fought for equality and human rights."