This week, shocking images of gay rights campaigners being punched, beaten, and arrested by anti-gay activists circulated online via the website BuzzFeed with the message that we should boycott the 2014 Russian Olympics.
In a western world that has taken such big steps towards tackling homophobia, where we are allowed to live with whomever we love, adopt children and now, finally, get married – it’s easy to forget that not everywhere in the world is as up to speed as us. Indeed, not everywhere in the country is as relaxed in their opinions on homosexuality that you can freely walk up and down the street hand-in-hand with your lover – but even in cities that are less open-minded, never would see such violence at a gay pride parade.
I honestly avoided looking at the images for as long as I could, because I knew I wouldn’t like them. But turning a blind eye to something because it’s unpleasant is not the way forward. When I eventually did look through the pictures, honestly a tear came my eye and my heart goes out to the gay and lesbian people in Russia and I pray that they stay strong. I have untold amounts of respect for those fighting for what they believe in and can only hope that I would be the same in their position.
The fact that such homophobia still exists is disgusting, and worse still in some countries is punishable by death. Our hands may be tied as to how much we can help our fellow brothers and sisters in other countries from across international waters, but what we can do is not turn a blind eye to something that we don’t like. Yes, we have the occasional gay hate crime, gay murder and gay arson – and nothing about that is acceptable – but we are still lucky in comparison to others and perhaps sometimes take it for granted. Don’t be afraid to look at the shocking images, sign petitions, share articles, start a movement and pray to God that one day this will all be over.
The question that remains now is how will gay tourists/athletes fair in a country with such low tolerance to homosexuality? Should we boycott the 2014 Olympics – and punish the country for having such backward views on sexuality? Or is that simply running scared and giving anti-gay activists the upper hand? It’s hard to say. Not only do they not deserve the tourism and money that the Olympics will bring, but no way should the world be led into a place where small-minds have such big says.