The entertainment industry is giving full voice to their criticism of the Russian anti-gay statute — as well they should. It is a horrid law that criminalizes behavior.
Too bad they can’t find the words to protest the treatment of women, Christians, and gays in Muslim countries.
From Hollywood to Broadway, the entertainment industry is using its star power and financial muscle to raise a storm of protest over the anti-gay legislation in Russia that is battering the image of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Actor-playwright Harvey Fierstein, British writer-actor Stephen Fry and Star Trek actor George Takei are among those who have publicly condemned the new law, fueling an uproar that is overshadowing preparations for the Feb. 7-23 Olympics.
With stars and activists using their high-profile platform to bring the issue to global attention, the gay rights crackdown in Russia has exploded into a hot-button controversy that is challenging Olympic leaders like no other since the protests over Tibet and human rights before the 2008 Games in Beijing.
President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and former Olympic athletes such as Greg Louganis have also denounced the law that prohibits the spread of “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” among minors.
The law, signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in June, imposes fines and up to 15 days in prison for violators. Hefty fines are levied for holding gay pride rallies. Foreigners can be deported.
Whether Putin is listening to the outcry is unclear, but the backlash has even triggered calls for a boycott of the games that he was instrumental in securing for Russia.
Also, the souring relations between the U.S. and Russia over National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, Syria, human rights and other issues has ratcheted up the tensions in the buildup to the Olympics. Obama canceled a planned summit meeting with Putin after Russia granted temporary asylum to Snowden.
Obama and Cameron have both ruled out a boycott because it would penalize the athletes who have trained for years to compete. The U.S.-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics and the Soviet boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles Games are widely viewed as failures.
“One of the things I’m really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which I think would go a long way in rejecting the kinds of attitudes that we’re seeing here,” Obama said Friday. “If Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, then that would probably make their team weaker.”
These Hollywood types aren’t very self-aware, are they? Hundreds of millions of women, Christians, and gays are openly persecuted in Arab and other Muslim countries. Where’s this kind of outrage for them?
Fierstein — winner of Tony Awards for the play Torch Song Trilogy — wrote an op-ed piece in The New York Times last month saying Putin “has declared war on homosexuals” and calling on world leaders and the International Olympic Committee to demand the retraction of the laws under threat of a boycott.
“Mr. Putin’s campaign against lesbian, gay and bisexual people is one of distraction, a strategy of demonizing a minority for political gain straight from the Nazi playbook,” Fierstein wrote.
Fry, the British entertainer and activist, posted an open letter this week to Cameron and the IOC comparing Putin’s “barbaric, fascist law” to persecution of Jewish people in Nazi Germany.
The reason Hollywood leftists don’t protest against the cliterectomies, the lashings, the honor killings, and the executions is that in Arab countries, these are “cultural” issues. And given the cultural relativism to which most liberals subscribe, protesting Muslim treatment of gays, women, and Christians would be like saying that their culture is inferior — even savage and backwards.
But Russia is an easy target, ergo the “Nazi” references. The real problem for the Olympics is that the government may not enforce the law, but roving gangs of anti-gay Russians might take matters into their own hands and beat up anyone exhibiting openly gay behavior.
If the uproar continues, it may begin to affect TV sponsorships as companies pull their ads as a result of the controversy. Given the enormous amount of money that NBC has invested in carrying the games, it is in the network’s interest that the entire affair just go away.
Too bad the Olympics aren’t being held in a Muslim country.