President Putin said that these laws were intended to “protect the children of Russia.” He noted that Russia’s population has been declining and that gay couples threaten straight Russian couples from producing more children. The laws also prevents Russian children from being adopted by foreign gay couples. As expected, this outraged many of the Winter Olympic’s sponsors, some of whom have withdrawn their support, including American singer Cher. As also expected, openly gay or gay rights supporting athletes have spoken out against the laws. On Sept. 30, at the USOC 2013 team USA media summit in Park City, Utah, Olympic gold medalist skier Bode Miller said, “I think it’s absolutely embarrassing that there’s countries, there’s people, that are intolerant, that are ignorant.”
Most Olympians have been advised by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) against making huge political statements, especially after Russia declared that the law will not apply to Olympic participants, athletes or viewers –although protesting of the law at the games will be strongly prohibited. It was under this promise that openly gay and three time medaling figure skater Johnny Weir spoke against the Russian bans and believed that it is better to show support for gay rights during the Olympics. “If it takes me getting arrested for people to pay attention and for people to lobby against this law, then I'm willing to take it," he said. Reminiscent of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin when Jesse Owens, an African-American, defied Hitler’s Arian theories and won four gold medals, the 2013 Winter Olympics will be a chance for some to broadcast gay pride on the world stage.
At the World Outgames, a sports event where LGBT athletes and supporters gather in Antwerp with 5000 athletes from over 100 different countries, members of Team Russia posed for Adam Bouska. An American award-winning photographer, Bouska is known for his NOH8 (“no hate”) campaign, in which he photographed over 32,000 supporters with duct tape over their mouths to show their outrage to Proposition 8 in California and later as a general statement for gay rights worldwide. The athletes added Russian flags, which one man held over his mouth, while others donned sunglasses to protect their identities. When asked about the Russian laws, the president of WSA Gay-Straight Alliance Gab Vogt commented, “Not only is this a disgrace toward the progress of human rights, but it is a blow to the athletes competing as the athletes not their sexuality. They are athletes just like gay people are not their sexuality; they’re people.”