Russian LGBT advocates ask IOC president to keep Olympics safe

Russian LGBT advocates met with Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Saturday to discuss the growing concern over Russia's "vaguely worded law" banning gay propaganda to minors ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics which are scheduled to begin February 7, 2014 in Sochi Russia.

Anastasia Smirnova of the Russian LGBT Network, one of the advocates who met with Bach in Paris, hand delivered a letter on behalf of Russian LGBT activists.

The letter urged the IOC to “publicly express support for those in the Olympic movement who speak up for basic human rights of LGBT persons” and publicly condemn Russia's anti-LGBT laws. In addition, the activists requested the IOC create a “Pride House” for out athletes and their allies during the Sochi games. The letter also requests that the IOC give a  commentary on eighteen specific questions regarding the Russian anti-LGBT law.

“We are aware of and are gravely concerned with the fact that the IOC does not acknowledge the urgency and necessity of this action, reiterating and endorsing vague assurances by the Russian government of non-discrimination at the Sochi games,” the letter reads. “While we appreciate your assurance that the IOC is committed to non-discrimination, we believe that everyone in the Olympic Movement should have a clear and well-informed understanding of the legal implications that exist in Russia in relation to the basic rights of LGBT individuals.”

Anastasia Smirnova commented on the meeting:

"It was a valuable conversation, and we delivered first-hand evidence that a clear and strong action is needed from the IOC to ensure respect of the Olympic principles at the Sochi Games. We hope that the IOC will take a step further and enquires into the actual implications of the ‘propaganda’ law. Lack of clarity on this is conducive to the Games failing to uphold the Olympic Charter."

The Washington Blade has more on the story.