How you can support LGBT athletes in Russia

Pride House International needs your help in getting the National Olympic Committees to provide a safe space for LGBT athletes and sports fans during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

A "Pride House" is a place where LGBT athletes, their allies, and their fans can gather to come together by watching games and learning about being LGBT in sports. Pride House International unites LGBT sports groups and human rights organizations in their dedication to advocating for equality in sports, through sports. Currently, they are campaigning for the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to provide just such an environment at next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Russia's anti-LGBT "propaganda law" banning the promotion of what it refers to as "non-traditional sexual relations" has caused international uproar from people, politicians, and celebrities who oppose the law. Tragically, the law also continues to spur many arrests and much violence against LGBT people and their allies. As the Olympics are fast approaching, there is worldwide concern for LGBT athletes, performers, and attendants, as well as their supporters as to how they will treated while in Russia.

Pride House International has launched a petition inviting the National Olympic Houses to host their own Pride House celebrations during the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. In the petition, the group brings attention to Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter, which states, "Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement."

This call to action follows the Russian Ministry of Justice's rejection of a similar PHI petition in March on the basis that a Pride House would incite "propaganda…which can undermine the security of the Russian society and the state," according to the current petition. This time around, PHI is appealing to the NOCs to host their own Pride Houses and show support for the safety and equality of the world's LGBT community.

Despite the first petition's rejection and other setbacks to protecting LGBT people from the "propaganda" law, such as the International Olympic Committee's president refusal to meet with LGBT advocates in Russia, advocacy groups continue their tireless efforts. As scores of Russian citizens who are LGBT seek asylum in other countries, GLAAD remains committed to bringing Russian LGBT advocates and their message to the forefront of the media, while All Out released videos to raise awareness and urge a repeal of the anti-LGBT law before the Olympic games begin. Additionally, the Russian LGBT Sports Federation is planning Open Gay Games to take place in Moscow days after the Sochi events.

Now's the time for you to get involved. Stand up for LGBT people around the world and their safety by taking to social media and sharing Pride House International's petition once you sign it. Let the NOCs know that the existence of LGBT people is not propaganda.