Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk both defended their country's anti-gay 'propaganda' laws last week

Ilya Kovalchuk delivered an ironic defense of Russia’s anti-gay laws

Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and hockey stars Kovalchuk and Datsyuk have defended the country's oppressive rulings.

I’m not sure how I missed this.

Last week, Ilya Kovalchuk responded to – and defended – his own country’s vile anti-gay laws with one of the more ironically offensive comments you’ve heard since probably yesterday.

“I agree, of course,” he said. “I’m Russian and we all have to respect that. It’s personal and, like I said, it’s a free world, but that’s our line. That’s our country, so everybody has to respect that.”

The fact someone would use phrases like “it’s a free world” and “we all have to respect that” and “it’s personal” to defend the oppression of an entire community of people is downright hilarious, and just a little more infuriating.

I wonder who else is using those exact same lines, in that exact same damn country?

Now, you could say Kovalchuk was just trying to survive in a country where apparently 84 per cent of its people feel the same way (according to Russian site RT). Still, his words don’t exactly sound like an athlete who’s only interested in staying politically neutral, or toeing the party line.

They sound like someone who’s given it some thought. They sound like someone who – if he had Putin’s chair – would have implemented the exact same laws and thought less than twice about it.

Kovalchuk’s words followed those of fellow patriot Pavel Datsyuk, who took the classical (and cowardly) religious route:

“My position – I am Orthodox,” he said. “That says it all.”

Ah, yes. Apparently, it’s a choice to be gay, but your own beliefs… those you’re born with.

Forget faith in faith. My faith in humanity is shaken whenever I hear someone has a greater allegiance to ancient novels than they do to their fellow man or woman.

Canadian, American, and Swedish players have so far blasted – or, politely disagreed with – Russia’s 21st century totalitarian spell, with guys like Dan Boyle and Braden Holtby taking the most vocal stance, so far.

“On Russia’s stance, I don’t agree with it,” said Boyle. “I just don’t agree. I think, gay or not, that shouldn’t change anything. Not a big fan of that.”

Holtby:

“It’s hard to go into a country that supports something like that… I don’t think (a boycott) would do any good. I think it would cause more problems than it would solve. But I think it’s an opportunity for athletes to get together and support a cause that I think a lot of us really have a passion for. And I think we can do lot of good for it.”

Sidney Crosby was also outspoken in his disapproval of the laws of the former (or, current?) Soviet Union when he was asked about it at Canada’s Olympic orientation camp last week.

“For me growing up in Canada, my view has always been that way,” he said. “I think that everyone has an equal right to play and I think we’ve been supportive of that. With the Olympics and the controversy around that I think those decisions and those laws aren’t necessarily something that I agree with personally… their laws and their views.”

Yeah, your politeness is respect, but I think we’re going to need a little more.

Live and let live isn’t good enough. When people are being jailed, beaten, or even killed for simply being who they are, the ones who can actually make a change (i.e. all of us) need to actually push that change through. We need to be the ones with the swords in our hands.

The ones who currently benefit from the system can’t simply stand on the sidelines and let the scene unfold. They need to actually pick a side and defend the oppressed. They need to fight for them.

The Olympics won’t change anything, so we shouldn’t expect it to. The IOC doesn’t care, anyway. They’ve never cared.

The Olympics ran in Berlin in 1936. The Olympics ran in Beijing in 2008. The Olympics patted itself on the back and heralded itself as an equal opportunity defender because one woman from Saudi Arabia ran dead-last in the London Games in 2012. The Olympics is fused together by one of the biggest organizations in the world, yet it acts like an observer. An enabler.

Sure, it’s progress, but there’s a lot more to be done. There’s always a lot more to be done.

Just Posted

West Shore RCMP hoping to reunite camera with owner

Police looking for the public’s help to identify people photographed on the camera

Beware of geese: Nesting season may trigger aggressive behaviour

Greater Victoria residents will have to be wary of nesting geese in the area

Greater Victoria leaders coming together to talk diversity and equity

Royal Road University’s Inclusion Project engages community stakeholders from public, private sectors

Royal B.C. Museum faces space, seismic standards and accessibilty issues; calls for public input

People can share their ideas online and in person from April 1 to June 27

British Columbians are paying more for booze but also broccoli

Victoria’s inflation was 2.3 per cent, a tick above Vancouver’s of 2.2 per cent

Victoria hosts ‘Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave’

The hockey cave was recently featured on a Netflix special

BREAKING: BC Ferry crashes into Langdale terminal

The Queen of Surrey is stuck on the dock, causing delays to Horseshoe Bay

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

SPCA seizes 54 animals from Vernon property

Animals weren’t receiving adequate care

Morneau unveils principles for Indigenous ownership in Trans Mountain pipeline

The controversial pipeline was bought by Ottawa last year

Refugee who sheltered Edward Snowden in Hong Kong arrives in Canada

Vanessa Rodel and her seven-year-old daughter Keana arrived in Toronto this week

New UMSCA trade deal getting a boost from Trump, business groups

The trade deal is designed to supplant the North American Free Trade Agreement

Trudeau says he, Wilson-Raybould had cordial conversation last week

Trudeau denies anything improper occurred regarding SNC-Lavalin and the PMO

SNC-Lavalin backtracks on CEO’s comments surrounding potential job losses

Top boss had said protecting 9,000 jobs should grant leniency

Most Read