U.S. mid-distance runner Nick Symmonds decided to push Vladimir Putin‘s anti-gay laws yesterday by dedicating his newly-won World Track and Field Championship medal to his gay friends. Symmonds, who won the silver in the 800-meter run, and won praise from the LGBT community and allies in the U.S.
Symmonds also became “the first athlete to openly criticize Russia’s controversial anti-gay law on the country’s soil,” Russia’s R-Sport reports:
“As much as I can speak out about it, I believe that all humans deserve equality as however God made them,” he told R-Sport after running a 1:43.55 at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. “Whether you’re gay, straight, black, white, we all deserve the same rights. If there’s anything I can do to champion the cause and further it, I will, shy of getting arrested.”
Symmonds, 29, made his opposition to a new law banning the promotion of homosexuality to minors known in a blog post for Runner’s World magazine on August 6.
Despite his outspokenness in the United States, he said he would he would not bring up the subject in Russia out of respect for the host country’s laws.
“I respect Russians’ ability to govern their people,” he said Tuesday. “I disagree with their laws. I do have respect for this nation. I disagree with their rules.”
Russia has promised to arrest anyone found violating their new laws banning “homosexual propaganda,” which could include Symmonds’ comments.
— Athlete Ally (@AthleteAlly) August 14, 2013
Now, other sports organizations are inquiring about Russia’s anti-gay laws. The International Olympics Committee requested clarification but has yet to receive an official response.
Yesterday, as The New Civil Rights Movement reported, the Russian head of FIFA’s 2018 World Cup recently defended his country’s new anti-gay laws by first suggesting without them gay people would be running around “naked,” and then by comparing gay people to “Nazis.”
Image by Nick Symmonds via Instagram
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