By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com August 19 2013 3:43 PM ET
At least two National Hockey League players who are likely to participate in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, are speaking out against the nation's ban on so-called homosexual propaganda.
Count Henrik Zetterberg, captain of the Detroit Red Wings and a Swedish native who will likely be part of Sweden's team at the 2014 Games, called the law "awful, just awful," according to a translation in USA Today from an interview with a Swedish tabloid.
"I think that everyone should be able to be themselves," Zetterberg continued. "It's unbelievable that it can be this way in this time, especially in a big country like Russia."
Another Swedish athlete who's likely headed to Sochi, but currently playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning, also condemned the law, which prohibits "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations," or any discussion of LGBT identities to minors. "That's completely wrong," said Victor Hedman, according to USA Today. "We're all humans. No one should have a say in what way you're sexually oriented."
The NHL has made a concerted effort to stress its willingness to be LGBT-inclusive. Last year a series of straight NHL players were among the first group of athletes join the You Can Play Project, which produces public service announcements to encourage acceptance and understanding of all athletes regardless of their sexual orientation. In April the NHL formally partnered with You Can Play, which was launched by Patrick Burke, the son of former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke and a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers. Patrick's late brother Brendan was a gay man who served as student manager of his college hockey team and became an activist for LGBT people in sports.