Olympian David Pichler Pens Op-ed in Support of LGBT Athletes in Sochi
By Jess Ballance
Former Olympic diver David Pichler wrote a piece today for The Miami Herald emphasizing his support of LGBT athletes and the Russian LGBT community, as well as condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s treatment of LGBT Russians. Pichler, a gay athlete, is a member of the Human Rights First delegation in Sochi for the Olympic Games.
In his piece, Pichler describes the effect he hopes the Sochi games will have:
Together—American athletes and their supporters—we will show Russians that the United States respects and honors its LGBT citizens, and that LGBT people are just that, people. We’re sons and daughters, activists and athletes. And perhaps we’ll be able to give LGBT Russians hope that better, freer days lie ahead.
Human Rights First has long worked to ensure that LGBT persons can access and enjoy fundamental human rights protections. In December, Human Rights First held a congressional briefing hosted by Representative David Cicilline and the LGBT Equality Caucus to discuss the situation for the LGBT Community in Russia, what activists on the ground are doing, and what the U.S. delegation to the Sochi Olympics can do to push back on Russia’s anti-gay legislation. Human Rights First also called on President Obama to appoint prominent LGBT persons to the official U.S. delegation to Sochi. LGBT athletes Billie Jean King, Brian Boitano, and Caitlin Cahow were chosen to represent the United States.
Pichler has traveled with Human Rights First to the Sochi Games. While there they will engage the international media and human rights defenders about the crackdown on civil society in Russia. They will also work to ensure that attention to these issues continues once the Games are over. Human Rights First continues to urge the U.S. government to keep up the pressure on Russian lawmakers to repeal the anti-propaganda laws and prevent the passage of further discriminatory laws.