The introduction of anti-gay legislation in Russia has sparked global condemnation and ignited a debate about whether or not to boycott the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Now Crown Prince Frederik, a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the foreign minister, Villy Søvndal (Socialistisk Folkeparti), have responded to the urging of political parties to speak out against the laws that persecute sexual minorities.
“The law is highly objectionable,” Søvndal told Politiken. “It risks promoting discrimination and attacks against minorities in the Russian society and we have already seen examples of this. The law gives an official stamp of approval [to discriminate]. We will ensure that Russia upholds its international commitments.”
Søvndal added that he would raise this issue at the European Council meeting in September, where Russia is represented, and even bring it up directly with the Russian foreign minister.
Russia passed a law in June outlawing “homosexual propaganda” that targets minors. The vague law effectively outlaws the public support of homosexuality and makes it punishable with 15 days of prison and a fine of up to 170,000 kroner.
In an email to Politiken, Crown Prince Frederik wrote that the IOC believes in the right to participate in sport without discrimination.
“If individual groups are discriminated against it would be a breach of the Olympic charter, the Olympic spirit and not least the contract that each host country makes with the IOC. The IOC president has made this clear to the Russian hosts,” Crown Prince Frederik wrote.
It is unclear whether the law will be enforced during the Games and whether openly gay spectators and athletes could risk punishment if found to be breaching the laws. 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.
The government has yet to make any statements about whether the anti-gay legislation will influence whether or not they will attend the Sochi Games next year.
Last year, the former culture minister, Uffe Elbæk (Radikale), was under pressure to boycott football's European Championships in the Ukraine over the treatment of its former prime minister, Yulia Timosjenko, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for “abuse of power”.
The charges were widely seen as politically motivated, but Elbæk decided to attend the competition in order to meet and show support for activist and opposition groups.