The democratic credentials of Putin’s Russia have been getting shakier and shakier in recent years (cf. Pussy Riot). After the suppression of pro-democracy protests in 2013 and the Kremlin’s ongoing support for Syria’s President Assad, the last thing President Putin needs is a new law that crushes the basic freedoms of millions of his own people at the same time that Russia enters the global sporting spotlight.

Unfortunately, in June 2013, Russia passed a law banning the promotion of ‘non-traditional’ lifestyles and the implication that homosexual relationships have an equal footing with heterosexual (read ‘normal’) ones. While homosexuality remains legal, there are fewer and fewer protections against hate crimes, and greater implication that being gay is not ok.

As I sit writing this (in relative safety in Britain), tens of millions of people around the world are watching the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. There were some good bits with huge, floating Soviet heads and a ring that failed to open up. It’s traditional for Olympic Opening Ceremonies to celebrate the achievements and values of the host nation; you might remember London 2012′s Opening Ceremony celebrated the Industrial Revolution, the NHS, British film and Shakespeare. With a global audience, you want to put your best wares out on the market.

Read the full essay at Sabotage Reviews.

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