The Winter Olympics in Sochi next year have been threatened with boycotts over Russia’s anti-homosexual laws, but the Danish culture minister has decided to attend.
“I am going to attend so that I can meet the Danish participants on their way into battle,” Marianne Jelved (R) told Politiken newspaper. “It’s a tradition among Danish culture ministers and I think it’s appropriate.”
While some leaders have said they would not attend – among them French President Francois Hollande and German President Joachim Gauck – Jelved argues that it is the wrong approach.
“We believe in engaging in critical dialogue. That means meeting face-to-face to discuss with the Russians. We can’t do this if we boycott them,” Jelved said.
Jelved said the issue was one of human rights, and that she would have no issue bringing it up if she met a Russian minister at the games, but that no meetings had been planned.
She added that the Danish government has strongly condemned Russian anti-homosexuality legislation that specifically bans homosexual “propaganda” targeted at children.
Approval to discriminate
Critics argues that the law could be used to suppress any openly homosexual acts and could put gay participants and attendees at the Games at risk of arrest or fines.
The former foreign minister, Villy Søvndal (SF), has called the law “an official stamp of approval to discriminate”, while Crown Prince Frederik – a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) – said it would breach the Olympic charter if individual groups are discriminated against.
While the IOC has stated that it expects the Russian government to put the laws on hold, a Russian MP responsible for writing the law, Vitaly Milonov, countered that the government wouldn’t have the authority to do so.