Don’t forget about the LGBT human rights issues in Russia

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Column by Mike Hodder.
Column by Mike Hodder.

Competing for ratings against real time revolution and Olympic hockey was tough for supporters of LGBT rights in Sochi, but British investigative reporter Liz MacKean managed to get ahead of the curve, albeit swept under the rug.

Boasting a $50-billion price tag, the Olympic Winter Games were a marvel of human athleticism.

But the real fireworks last week were fired at the riot police in Kiev’s Independence Square in clashes that left 88 people dead and hundreds injured, according to the Ukrainian Health Ministry.

With many awaiting an official response by Russian president Vladimir Putin to the Ukrainian revolution, the formerly massive LGBT human rights issue in Russia had begun to seem like something of an afterthought.

Issues like LGBT rights don’t take a time out so we can cheer on Team Canada, and attention is spread thin once goals start being scored. But is it too tall an order for us to pay attention to both?

With the amount of attention diverted to Twitter, Facebook, the game and pictures of our lunch, we should be up to the task.

Documentary shines light on Russia’s homophobic violence

Hunted in Russia, a documentary by MacKean, aired on the eve of the Olympics on Britain’s Channel 4, depicting vigilante gangs in Russia using the country’s new anti-homosexual propaganda laws as a free pass for “hunting” and beating gay men.

The feature-length documentary, which is no longer available on YouTube, helped fuel a wave of public criticism of Russia’s anti-homosexual propaganda law.

Vigilante gangs believe the law gives them government approval to carry out these crimes. Making no point of concealing their faces or withholding their names, they actually believe they’re doing the right thing.

The Russian Embassy released a statement calling the film, “well-timed and cynical propaganda.”

You could call it that, or good marketing.

Using the Olympics as a platform for protest is effective; the entire world is watching.

The problem is the entire world is watching the Games instead.

Hunted in Russia is airing on CBC’s The Passionate Eye this Saturday.

Reported by Mike Hodder

Liz MacKean speaking on LGBT human rights issues in Russia:

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