A petition signed by more than 320,000 people calling on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to condemn a Russian anti-gay law ahead of the winter Olympics to be held in Sochi, Russia was presented to Olympic bosses in Switzerland on Wednesday.
The petition calls on Russia to repeal its “gay propaganda” law ahead of the Sochi Games in February.
The law, signed by President Vladimir Putin last month, prohibits the promotion of gay rights in a public setting where minors might be present, effectively outlawing everything from Gay Pride marches to wearing a rainbow pin in public.
Several Russian officials have contradicted the IOC’s assertion that the law would not affect the games.
Appearing on CNN, Andre Banks, co-founder and executive director of LGBT rights group All Out, said that his group delivered the petition to the IOC headquarters in Lausanne.
“What they told us, very interestingly, is that they’re pushing for a signed agreement from the Russians asking that people will not be persecuted under the anti-gay hate law that’s recently come into effect,” Banks said. “We think this is an important first step, but certainly we know that this is not far enough. We can’t just have assurances for the two weeks of the Olympics and then walk away knowing that one of the worst laws in the world is still on the books.”
“Holding these Winter Olympics in Sochi this year under these laws is like hosting an Olympic Games in Johannesburg at the height of apartheid,” he later added. “It simply cannot stand without a major debate.”
IOC senior staffers who met with All Out representatives were also given a letter from British actor Stephen Fry and a second petition signed by Olympians and athletes, including Greg Louganis, Brendon Ayanbadejo, and Mardy Fish.