The line demarcating sport and politics has been blurred in the lead-up to February’s Sochi Winter Olympics. Russian governance has deemed homosexual acts and propaganda in all forms illegal, forcing tremors of controversy to permeate within the international community.
The International Olympic Committee has refrained from taking a partisan stance on the issue, attempting to absolve itself of any responsibility for legislation passed by nations hosting one of its semi-annual games.
The organization finds itself in a unique position. Its decision to act or not is fated to set a massive precedent for gay and civil rights writ large.
Remaining silent undoubtedly yields the best immediate payoff for the IOC, but may cripple age-old pursuits striving to universalize LGBT tolerance on a global scale.
Victoria locals are embedded in a culture that is largely in favour of the right to sexual freedoms, who collectively advocate for equal rights among race, gender and sexual orientation.
The attitude here differs greatly from that of Russia; the two settings offer a polarizing glimpse into the dichotomous world of human rights interpretation.
This had birthed the question currently stapled to the collective lips of Victoria’s civic consciousness: how can Russian opinion evolve to accommodate the needs of its own LGBT community?
Colin McKenna, a provincially renowned gay-rights advocate, offers a practical approach to locating a resolution. He says, “I think greater education is what’s needed, and that should be coming from other world powers … via the world’s media.”
This vision champions empathy and compassion as potential catalysts for positive change. Essentially, McKenna espouses the concept of treating others as you would treat yourself. Such a simple, yet transcendental ideology is the key to recognizing the errors of prejudice.
Perhaps Olympic media presents a justifiable starting point, as sport oversteps cultural difference for two weeks.