olympics

Meet The Sochi-Bound Olympians Who Have Spoken Out Against Russia’s Anti-LGBT Laws

If any athletes are going to make headlines for speaking out against Putin’s anti-LGBT legislation, these are the Olympians you should be watching.

1. Australian Snowboarder, Belle Brockhoff

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The 20-year-old Aussie came out of the closet in August as a display of solidarity with gay and lesbian athletes. After qualifying to compete in snowboard cross, she has made her feelings toward Russian President Vladimir Putin and his country’s anti-gay laws very clear, promising to “rip on his ass” during interviews. “I’m not happy and there’s a bunch of other Olympians who are not happy either,” she said.

During the games she also plans on making small displays of support. “The most I’ll do is hold up six fingers to represent Principle Six. Possibly I’ll do it on camera here or there, and maybe after the heats of my event.” The Principle Six campaign, named after the clause in the Olympic charter that guarantees non-discrimination, was formed by two nonprofits: Athlete Ally and All Out. Brockhoff and the other athletes that have joined the campaign are pushing Russia to repeal its controversial anti-LGBT legislation.

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2. U.S. Alpine Skier, Ted Ligety

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While this champion ski racer has made his disapproval of the anti-LGBT laws clear, he doesn’t plan on making any statements at the games. A gold medal favorite, Ligety expects at least one athlete to make some show of support. “They’re obviously trying to dissuade that kind of stuff. I don’t know exactly what we’ll see, but I’m sure someone will make a statement because it is an issue that so many people feel strongly about,” he told BuzzFeed.

Denis Balibouse / Reuters

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3. U.S. Figure Skater, Ashley Wagner

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U.S. Figure skater Ashley Wagner first spoke out against Russian legislation at the Olympic Committee’s media summit in October – she has been completely relentless ever since. “I have such a firm stance on this that we should all have equal rights,” said the two-time national champion. “I obviously don’t support the legislation in Russia, but at the same time it’s not my place to go into Russia and tell them how to run their country, I’m just an athlete.” She will continue to raise her own voice in Sochi, promising not to dodge any questions.

Issei Kato / Reuters

Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters

 

5. Swedish Hockey Player, Henrik Zetterberg

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Zetterberg, captain of the Detroit Red Wings, will compete at Sochi on the Swedish Hockey team. He voiced his stance earlier this year, calling the anti-LGBT laws “awful, just awful.” Tamba Bay Lighting defenseman Victor Hedman, who did not make the Olympic team, also voiced his stating, “That’s completely wrong, we’re all humans. No one should have a say in what way you’re sexually oriented.”

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Marc Desrosiers-Usa Today Sports/Usa Today Sports

 

6. The Australian Bobsled Team

Heath Spence, the captain of the Aussie bobsled team, and his teammates are showing their support right on their sled. The Principle 6 Campaign recently became an official sponsor for the team, with its logo appearing on its bobsled at the World Cup event in Lake Placid, N.Y. “We don’t just believe that on principle — some of our most loyal supporters have been gay,” Spence said. “We’re against discrimination in sport, full stop. That means we also oppose discrimination against gay and lesbian athletes.”

7. Canadian Speedskater, Anastasia Bucsis

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After making the decision to come out publicly this September, the speedskater isn’t going to hide anything in Sochi — she will compete as an out gay Olympian. She remains optimistic about the future of LGBT people living in Russia, “I also have faith in Russia. I think — I hope — that things will get better.” The athlete, who will compete in women’s long track, has joined several other olympians in the Athlete Ally campaign.

Grigory Dukor / Reuters

 

8. U.S. Figure Skater, Jeremy Abbott

Issei Kato / Reuters

Four-time U.S. figure skating national champion Jeremy Abbott sounded off on Russia’s anti-LGBT laws after securing a spot on the men’s figure skating team, stating that the laws are “very unfortunate.” He went on to say, “I don’t care what people assume about me, whether or not I am gay or straight. Ultimately I think it has no baring on the conversation. I’m an ally and I believe everyone should be supportive of human rights.”

Brian Snyder / Reuters

Issei Kato / Reuters

 

9. Canadian Skier, Mike Janyk

Janyk, who took home a bronze medal in 2009, has no plans to actively protest in Russia but will use the lead-up to the Games as an opportunity to raise awareness. “I’ve had the fortune and freedom to pursue my dreams in sport and have seen firsthand how it brings people from around the world together in the pursuit of love, happiness, and excellence,” stated the two-time Olympian.

10. Other Sochi-bound athletes have not spoken out individually, but have signed on with the Principle Six and Athlete Ally campaigns.

Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter has become a rallying cry of activists pushing the International Olympic Committee to do more for LGBT rights at the Sochi Olympics.

Canadian snowboarder, Alexandra Duckworth

Jean-Yves Ahern/Usa Today Sports

11. Canadian biathlete, Rosanna Crawford

12. Australian Bobsled Team Members, Astrid Radjenovic and Jana Pittman

Ryan Pierse / Getty Images

13. Swiss Snowboarder, Simona Meiler

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