Athletes at worlds sport rainbow fingernails
MOSCOW (AP)— At least two Swedish athletes at the world championships in Moscow competed with rainbow-colored fingernails Thursday, showing support for gays and lesbians in contrast to Russia’s new anti-gay law.
High jumper Emma Green Tregaro posted a picture of her fingers on the social media site Instagram, saying “Nails painted in the colors of the rainbow.” She followed that with several hashtags, including “#pride” and “#moscow2013.”
“This is to show what I stand for. I think sports are about respecting and tolerating each other, so I thought it was a nice gesture,” Green Tregaro told the Swedish news agency TT.
Swedish sprinter Moa Hjelmer also sported rainbow-colored nails when she ran Thursday in the 200-meter heats at Luzhniki Stadium.
“Some teammates have done the same,” Sweden team spokesman Fredrik Trahn said.
“The federation has not discussed it. It is all up to the athletes.”
Green Tregaro, who won a bronze medal at the 2005 world championships, qualified for the final of the women’s high jump and will return to the track on Saturday. Hjelmer was eliminated in the heat.
The issue of gay rights has gained increasing attention from Western activists and entertainers since Russia passed an anti-gay law in June. Some have even called for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which will be held in the southern Russian resort of Sochi.
The Russian law does not explicitly ban participation in gay pride parades or the promotion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality online, but anyone wearing a rainbow flag on the street or writing about gay relationships on Facebook could be accused of propagandizing. Those convicted face fines, as well as possible prison sentences or deportation.
Both the International Olympic Committee and FIFA, which will hold its World Cup in Russia in 2018, have asked the Russian government for more clarification. It remains unclear if the new law will be enforced during the Sochi Olympics or the World Cup.
—AP Sports Writer Raf Casert contributed to this report.
LGBT Sports Coalition thanks athletes at World Track and Field Championships for supporting LGBT rights
GLAAD is a proud member of the LGBT Sports Coalition. The coalition is an association of organizations and individuals committed to ending anti-LGBT bias in sports by 2016. It was formalized at the LGBT Sports Summit in Portland, Ore., in June 2013.
On Tuesday night, the LGBT Sports Coalition thanked athletes at the World Track and Field Championships for supporting LGBT people and called on the International Olympic Committee to create opportunities for safe commentary in Sochi:
With the conclusion of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Moscow, the LGBT Sports Coalition thanks all participating athletes who stood up for LGBT equality in Russia. Specifically, our appreciation goes out to three competitors:
American 800-meter silver medalist Nick Symmonds, who spoke openly about his opposition to Russian anti-gay laws and dedicated his medal to his gay and lesbian friends.
Swedish high-jumper Emma Green Tregaro and sprinter Moa Hjelmer, who painted their fingernails in the colors of the rainbow to show support for LGBT people.
“We could not be prouder of the athletes from around the world who have taken a stance against LGBT discrimination in sports despite the face of backlash by the Russian government,” said GO! (Generation Out) Athletes Executive Director Anna Aagenes.
“As a former Division I track & field athlete, it has been especially moving to see elite runners and jumpers at the World Championships in Moscow using the stage to voice their support for the LGBT community.”
“Olympians like Nick Symmonds remind us that they truly understand the expression, ‘Sport is for all,’” said Les Johnson, Co-chair for external affairs for the Federation of Gay Games and a member of Pride House International. “All of these athletes have demonstrated what I believe most athletes feel in their hearts: Sport is about true competition without any form of discrimination.”
The LGBT Sports Coalition looks forward to similar inspiration from other athletes headed to competitions in Russia in the near future. The Coalition implores the International Olympic Committee to establish opportunities for athletes to do that safely and without repercussion at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in February.
—Rich Ferraro, GLAD
Miss Universe responds, fans demand safety
The Miss Universe Organization, owned and operated by Donald Trump, has responded to a petition on Change.org signed by more 27,000 people calling on the organization to relocate its upcoming pageant from Moscow, Russia in November 2013 due to the country’s anti-gay legislation.
In a statement released today, the Miss Universe Organization said in part:
“The Miss Universe Organization believes in equality for all individuals and is deeply concerned by the laws recently enacted in Russia and currently in place in several other countries. Both the law, as well as the violence experienced by the LGBT community in Russia, are diametrically opposed to the core values of our company. Our organization has always embodied a spirit of inclusion and is a celebration of people from all countries and walks of life.“
“The safety of our contestants, staff and crew is of the utmost importance and we are working with our Russian hosts to ensure the security and well-being of those traveling to Russia for the pageant.”
Francesco Pascuzzi, a lifelong pageant fan and openly gay man from Somerville, New Jersey, launched his Change.org petition in protest of Russia’s recently passed anti-gay laws. In addition to passing sweeping legislation that bans the “promotion” of homosexuality, the country now also prohibits LGBT couples from adopting Russian children. Reports of violence against LGBT people have also made international news in recent weeks.
“While I appreciate the Miss Universe Organization’s concern over Russia’s anti-gay policy, statements alone won’t protect gay staff and fans traveling to the pageant,” said Francesco Pascuzzi, who launched his campaign on Change.org. “Thousands of people are signing my petition, which keeps growing everyday. I, along with the 27,000 people who have signed my petition, will keep pushing until all pageant fans -- gay and straight -- can attend without fear of injury or incarceration.”
Last week, previous pageant host Andy Cohen made headlines when said that he would not host the competition this year because, as a gay man, he fears for his safety in Russia.
New signatures on Francesco’s petition are sent via email to Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization.
In the spring of 2012, Jenna Talackova, a transgender woman originally disqualified from competing in the Miss Universe pageant, was allowed to participate after more than 20,000 people signed a Change.org petition calling on Donald Trump to stop discriminating against trans women.
Francesco Pascuzzi’s petition:
Mutko: Anti-gay law won’t infringe on Olympics
MOSCOW (AP)— Russia’s law banning gay “propaganda” for minors won’t infringe on the private lives of athletes and spectators at next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, the country’s sports minister said Sunday.
But Vitaly Mutko’s comments on the final day of the athletics world championships leave it open as to whether Olympic athletes and fans could be subject to prosecution if they make statements that could be considered propaganda.
In a news conference on Sunday, Mutko appeared to liken homosexual relations to substance abuse.
“We want to protect our children whose psyches have not formed from the propaganda of drug use, drunkenness and non-traditional sexual relations,” Mutko said.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993 and Mutko, along with other Russian officials, have been at pains to emphasize that the law does not penalize gay orientation or activity.
“I can say once again that the freedoms of Russian and foreign athletes and guests who come to Sochi will be absolutely protected,” Mutko said.
However, the law reflects widespread animosity toward homosexuals in Russian society and its vagueness troubles many. The law penalizes anyone who distributes information aimed at persuading minors that “nontraditional” relationships are normal or attractive, but does not define what would be considered information or distribution.
It appears possible that anyone wearing a rainbow flag on the street or writing about gay relationships on Facebook, for instance, could be accused of “propagandizing.”
The issue attracted attention at the world championships this week when Swedish high jumper Emma Green Tregaro painted her fingernails in the colors of the rainbow to support gays and lesbians.
Green Tregaro’s gesture, which she said was aimed at promoting tolerance, prompted a complaint from Russian pole vault star Yelena Isinbayeva that she was disrespecting Russia.
After officials from the IAAF, the sport’s governing body, said the gesture could be a violation of the competition’s code of conduct, Green Tregaro appeared in Saturday’s final round with red nails.
The law sparked a campaign in the United States to boycott Russian vodkas and calls from activists to boycott the Sochi Olympics. Mutko downplayed the controversy on Sunday.
“In my view, Western media, media outside Russia, give more attention to this than we do in Russia,” Mutko said.
—Jim Heintz, Associated Press