Human Rights First Applauds U.S. Embassy in Moscow for Supporting the Open Games
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today praised the United States Embassy in Moscow for providing support and assistance to participants of the first Russian Open Games that occurred February 26 through March 2 in Moscow. Following setbacks, including venue closures and reservation cancellations, the U.S. Embassy staff under the leadership of Ambassador Michael McFaul and Deputy Chief of Mission Sheila Gwaltney demonstrated support for the Russian LGBT community by joining together with competitors of the Open Games for a game of basketball.
“We are happy to see this substantive follow up by the embassy to the great work of the U.S. Olympic Delegation to support global equality,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “Through something as simple as basketball, the embassy staff showed that equality remains a core American value. Small gestures such as these demonstrate the United States’ ongoing commitment to LGBT rights and the global LGBT community.”
As the world watched the XXII Winter Olympiad last month in Sochi, Russia’s crackdown on the LGBT community intensified and it continues today. In the form of the anti-”propaganda” law, activists and allies face prosecution for simply exercising their core freedoms of speech and expression, and live in a climate of increasing violence that is legitimized by such laws. Following the conclusion of the Olympic Games, members of the Russian LGBT Sports Federation hoped the Open Games would serve to keep the eyes of the international community on Russia.
Human Rights First will host a media phone briefing next week to discuss how the United States can continue to support Russia’s LGBT community, press for a repeal of the anti-“propaganda” law, and prevent similar laws from being enacted in the surrounding region.