In a letter to NBC Universal, HRC President Chad Griffin asks the network to “expose” Russia’s “inhumane and unjust” anti-LGBT laws during their broadcast of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Russian president Vladimir Putin has been waging war on his LGBT citizens, and recently signed a law that makes it illegal to show support of anything homosexual.
“The law functionally criminalizes even the most modest gesture of support for the dignity and humanity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people,” Griffin told NBC CEO Stephen Burke.
“NBCUniversal, which has the exclusive rights to broadcast the Olympics in the United States, has a unique opportunity — and a responsibility — to expose this inhumane and unjust law to the millions of American viewers who will tune in to watch the Games,” Griffin’s letter (copy, below) reads.
“You no doubt agree that it wouldn’t be right to air the opening ceremonies, which is an hours-long advertisement for the host country, without acknowledging that a whole segment of the Russian population — not to mention foreign athletes and visitors — can be jailed for an immutable aspect of their identity,” Griffin added.
Griffin’s letter also reminds NBC that “the law contains a provision that allows the Russian government to arrest and detain foreigners for up to 14 days for supporting LGBT equality.” He adds that equating gay relationships with straight ones, tweeting “positive messages about LGBT people,” or even LGBT people just “holding hands” is now illegal in Russia.
“If you look down the road, I do think it is going to be a problem for NBC Universal,” Fred Sainz, HRC’s Vice President of Communications and Marketing said, according to Variety. “I think their broadcast is going to have to have some kind of advocacy on this.”
Noting that “NBC is scheduled to give a presentation on the Winter Games to a room full of TV critics and reporters on Saturday at the Summer TV Press Tour 2013,” the Washington Post reports NBC provided this statement:
“NBCUniversal strongly supports equal rights and the fair treatment for all people. The spirit of the Olympic Games is about unifying people and countries through the celebration of sport and it is our hope that spirit will prevail.”
NBC reportedly has paid the Olympic Committee $775 million for the 2014 Winter Games, as part of a long-term contract costing them $4.38 billion.
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