Senate Resolution Will Call On Olympics Officials To Oppose Russia’s Anti-LGBT Law

Sen. Jeff Merkley will introduce the resolution. The measure will call on the International Olympic Committee to oppose Russia’s anti-LGBT propaganda law and protect athletes and spectators from discrimination at the Winter Olympics.

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Jeff Merkley plans to introduce a Senate resolution calling on the International Olympic Committee to oppose Russia’s anti-LGBT propaganda law and receive guarantees about the law’s enforcement during the Sochi Winter Olympics, BuzzFeed has learned.

A spokesman for the Oregon Democrat told BuzzFeed of the plans Thursday afternoon, hours after a Russian news source reported that the country’s sports minister said the law would be enforced during the games, slated to take place in February 2014.

The statement from Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko contradicted a prior statement of the IOC that the international body had received assurances the new law would not be applied to “those attending or taking part in the Games.”

Following BuzzFeed’s report on the developments Thursday, Merkley tweeted:

The resolution will ask the IOC both to oppose the law itself and to receive a guarantee that athletes and spectators will not be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity at the Sochi Winter Olympics, Merkley spokesman Jamal Raad said. The language is still being finalized, however, and he said the resolution will not be introduced formally until the Senate returns from its August recess.

The resolution would be the Senate’s first formal statement regarding the Russian law, which was signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in June.

The Human Rights Campaign praised Merkley — also the lead sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban anti-LGBT discrimination in employment in the U.S. — for the move.

“With increasing attention being paid to Russia’s deplorable treatment of LGBT people, we applaud Senator Merkley and efforts in Congress to shine a spotlight on this issue and the cloud that hangs over the Sochi Olympic Games,” Human Rights Campaign spokesman Michael Cole-Schwartz told BuzzFeed.

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Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.
Contact Chris Geidner at chris.geidner@buzzfeed.com
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