The Danish government is to take diplomatic steps to highlight and criticise Russia’s new anti-gay propaganda law, while the Danish Crown Prince warns that discrimination against individual groups runs contrary to the Olympic Charter.
“The law is objectionable. It risks fostering discrimination and the abuse of minorities in Russian society – something we have already seen examples of, and to which the law gives the stamp of approval. We will hold Russia to its international obligations,” says Foreign Minister Villy Søvndal, adding Denmark will raise the issue at the European Council in September, and possibly also at the United Nations and Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Søvndal adds that he would also like to discuss the issue with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Russia’s new law was passed in June and prevents homosexual couples from adopting children and bans the dissemination of material on ‘untraditional sexuality’.
“The law will undoubtedly promote hate against sexual minorities. So the government must protest against it at all levels in order to have it changed prior to the Olympic Games,” says Institute for Human Rights Director Jonas Christoffersen.
Next year’s Winter Olympics are to take place in February in Sochi. The past couple of weeks have seen mixed signals from the Russian authorities on whether the new law will be suspended during the Olympics.
Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik, who is the International Olympic Committee’s representative in Denmark writes in an e-mail that the right to practice sports without any discrimination is a core issue for the IOC.
“Discrimination against individual groups is a breach of the Olympic Charter and not least the contract that every host nation enters into with the IOC. The IOC’s president has made this clear to the Russian hosts,” Crown Prince Frederik writes.
The chairman of the Danish Sporting Federation says he believes the Olympics will take place without any incidents targeted at homosexuals.
“We have been given such major guarantees concerning the Olympics that we feel secure. I am convinced that the authorities will abide by (Ed: the guarantees). Russia will simply have to comply,” says Niels Nygaard.
The Danish People’s Party is calling on Danish officialdom to stay away from Sochi. “We don’t want any official representatives from Denmark to be there. The culture minister should stay away,” the DPP Foreign Policy Spokesman Søren Espersen says.
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Edited by Julian Isherwood