Russian President Vladimir Putin and the IOC's Thomas Bach
Olympics: Activists Deliver Long List of Unanswered Questions

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on Advocate.com December 01 2013 7:30 AM ET

Russian LGBT activists told the president of the International Olympic Committee that he is relying on "vague assurances" from Russia on whether gay athletes and supporters will be safe there for next year's Winter Olympics.

After a meeting on Saturday, the groups made public a letter with 18 bullet points. Each describes a way it's still unclear whether Russia's antigay laws will apply in February in Sochi.

"It is crucial that these questions are answered," wrote the leaders, according to a copy of the letter obtained by BuzzFeed. It is signed by a list of groups including the Russian LGBT Network, Side by Side LGBT Film Festival, Russian LGBT Sport Federation, and the Out Loud project

The Associated Press reports that, while in Paris, IOC President Thomas Bach met with members of the coalition. They reportedly called for "an independent investigation on the legal implications of the antigay laws in effect in Russia during the Olympic Games." LGBT rights group AllOut told the AP it is awaiting final word on whether any investigation will go forward.

Via BuzzFeed, here is the complete list of outstanding information:

• Should two individuals of the same sex either hold hands or kiss in public, would that be seen as contravening the law? As a legal matter, would the public dissemination of such same-sex attraction by television, newspaper or internet impact the legal response of Russian authorities?

• Would a person be sanctioned or arrested for wearing “Gay Pride” or similarly themed clothing or accessories, or clothing items/accessories containing an LGBT-related insignia? Again, does it matter whether these LGBT insignia are captured and disseminated by the media or on the internet?

• What would happen should a person speak in favor of the equal treatment of LGBT persons – whether publicly or in what was intended to be a private conversation?

• Can athletes, spectators, or citizens speak affirmatively and positively about their family/ partnership if their family/ partnership is same-sex? Can they do so in communications with the media?

• Would a reporter asking questions related to the law be accused of violating the law?

• Would a reporter interviewing spectators under 18 years old who identify themselves as homosexual about their life experiences related to this identity be accused of violating the law?

• Would positive media presentation of same-sex families/ partnerships/ relationships, or LGBT identities of athletes, spectators, or citizens be considered a violation of the law? If so, who would be accused – interviewees? Media companies?

• Can Olympic athletes or spectators sport LGBT-themed apparel or pins, including officially-licensed London2012 rainbow pins or any other similar products out there from London2012? Can Russian citizens do so?

• Can athletes, spectators or citizens carry Gay Pride flags?

• Can athletes, spectators, or citizens distribute pamphlets concerning the human rights of all individuals, including those in “non-traditional sexual relationships,” as a reflection of both their beliefs and their rights to freedoms of opinion, speech and expression?

• Would a child be taken from a couple if that couple either was or appeared to be gay or lesbian?

• Would children who have been adopted by lesbian or gay individuals or couples be allowed to enter the country?

• Can an LGBT athlete speak affirmatively and positively about their sexual orientation in pre- or post-competition interviews?

• Can a parent of an LGBT athlete – Russian or foreign – speak affirmatively of his/her child, including with reference to that athlete’s sexual orientation or gender identity, in pre- or post-competition interviews?

• Can media coverage of the Games include examination of Russia’s discriminatory legal climate directed against LGBT people? Are foreign and Russian media companies/ reporters treated differently?

• Are private sector companies not free to include same-sex couples in their advertising related to sponsorship of the Games? Are they permitted to include pro-LGBT messages of solidarity in their advertising? Are they allowed to have Pride-themed designs for their products?

• Is there a distinction in how any of these scenarios would be handled (a) within the Olympic Village, (b) in the broader Olympic security zones in and around Sochi, or (c) outside of those zones?

• Would the response to any of these questions differ depending on the citizenship of the individual(s)? Would foreign nationals be treated differently, inasmuch as the law specifies different penalties for foreigners?