By Jase Peeples
Originally published on Advocate.com October 15 2013 1:50 PM ET
As a 10-time gold medalist, Lee Pearson is not only a Paralympic equestrian legend, he’s also Britain’s most successful gay athlete, and he plans to speak out against Russia’s antigay laws during the Winter Games in Sochi, regardless of the personal consequences, reports London's Daily Mail.
“I don't care if it means I go to prison,” Pearson told the Mail. “In some respects I hope I do because then the prime minister and my country would have to get involved and that would add to the embarrassment for Russia.”
Pearson, who was born with a congenital disorder which left his limbs badly twisted, hopes that his actions will result in global awareness of Russia’s unacceptable treatment of LGBT people. “It is shocking. It's like Germany in the Thirties. We shouldn't ignore this,” he said.
However, the athletic legend isn’t limiting his criticism to Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin. He’s also calling out the International Olympic Committee for the organization’s failure to uphold its own principles. “There is conflict with the Olympic Charter,” he said. “Aren't the Olympics and Paralympics all about the coming together of the people of the world where race, creed and sexuality are of no matter? The eyes of the world are on the Olympics and Paralympics. It should be all about equality.”
While Pearson has achieved amazing feats in his sport, he feels his planned protest in Sochi will be one of the most important moments in his life. “I am very proud of what I have achieved in sport but the most important thing I will ever do is to make a stand and help educate Russia and the world about discrimination. Winning medals does not compare to that.”