LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

European leaders: do not send high-ranking officials to Sochi!

ILGA-Europe statement on the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

ILGA-Europe is calling on leaders of European and other countries not to send high-ranking officials to Sochi 2014 Olympics as a sign of protest against ongoing human rights violations in Russia.

ILGA-Europe commends those European and other world leaders who already stated they will not attend the Sochi Olympics.

Since Putin’s return to the presidency in 2012, the Russian government has unleashed a crackdown on civil society, targeting in particular human rights defenders protecting the rights of minority groups. A series of discriminatory and restrictive laws have been introduced which significantly restrict civil society organisations and threatens their existence, such as the treason law, ‘foreign agent’ law, Dima Yakovlev law and the homosexuality anti-propaganda law.

These legal restrictions are supplemented by harassment, intimidation of human rights defenders and civil society representatives casting them as ‘enemies’ of Russia and its ‘traditional values’.

As a result, these laws and policies fuel violence and discrimination against the most vulnerable minority groups in Russia, including immigrant workers, ethnic and religious minorities and LGBTI people. While ethnic, racial and religious minorities, and immigrant workers with non-Slavic appearance have long been targets of neo-Nazi, ultra nationalist groups, with the introduction of new laws and accompanying public rhetoric ‘demonising’ lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans identities, LGBTI people (particularly youth) have increasingly become the new ‘bait’ for hate groups.

ILGA-Europe believes that there is a serious threat to the civil society, human rights defenders and minority groups, in particular after the Sochi Olympics, when the attention of the international community will inevitably decrease.

ILGA-Europe believes the current approach by the Russian authorities is incompatible with principle 6 of the Olympic Charter, which states that any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on the grounds of race, religious, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.

Therefore we call on the European leaders to uphold the principles of human rights, respect and dignity for all, demonstrate their disproval of the Russian authorities’ stance towards human rights and civil society by not to send high ranking officials to Sochi.