BRITISH COLUMBIA

Vancouver Pride: Gregor Robertson Slams Russia's Anti-Gay Laws

07/29/2013 02:44 EDT | Updated 07/31/2013 09:26 EDT
AP/Alamy

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has stepped into the growing furor over Russia's sweeping anti-gay laws as the city's annual Pride Week is launched.

“As host Mayor of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, I have been alarmed to learn of further discriminatory legislation and violent actions targeting the LGBTQ community in Russia ahead of the upcoming 2014 Games in Sochi,” the mayor's statement reads. “It is clear to me that the Russian parliament’s homophobic assault on the fundamental human rights of the LGBTQ community will prevent many of these individuals from safely and openly participating in Sochi."

Members of the Canadian Olympic Team will march at the Pride Parade in Vancouver Saturday. The team was represented for the first time at the Toronto Pride march this year.

READ ROBERTSON'S FULL STATEMENT

In an editorial for the official Vancouver Pride Guide, the Canadian Olympic Team writes: "For many LGBT athletes, discrimination, shame and a life of silence is a common reality both in and out of competition. Why do we march? We march to remember and we march to progress."

Vancouver businesses in the heart of the gay-friendly Davie Village were quick to join the growing movement to boycott Russian products, including vodka, last week. Ray Lam, general manager of Vancouver Pride Society told The Huffington Post B.C. Saturday, he would like to see the protest expand beyond the the village, just as those who attend Pride are not confined to the LGBTQ community.

News of two Dutch tourists jailed July 21 in Russia under new anti-gay laws prompted bars from London to Chicago to pull Russian vodka from shelves.

Related on HuffPost:

Gay Rights In Russia

ROBERTSON'S FULL STATEMENT

As host Mayor of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, I have been alarmed to learn of further discriminatory legislation and violent actions targeting the LGBTQ community in Russia ahead of the upcoming 2014 Games in Sochi.


It is my firm belief that the Olympic and Paralympic Games should be fully and unequivocally open to all athletes, officials, spectators and journalists who are able to participate, regardless of their nationality, gender, or sexual orientation. It is clear to me that the Russian parliament’s homophobic assault on the fundamental human rights of the LGBTQ community will prevent many of these individuals from safely and openly participating in Sochi.


As we welcomed the world for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, we were proud to have the opportunity to showcase the diversity, acceptance, and freedoms that make Vancouver such a vibrant place to live and visit. We were also proud to feature the first Pride House at any Olympic Games, which provided a safe space and resource centre for LGBTQ athletes, coaches, spectators and other visitors. I am dismayed to see this important progress rolled back ahead of the next Olympics in Sochi.


I would like to join the millions worldwide who are calling upon Russia to end its violent crackdown on the human rights and free expression of the LGBTQ community ahead of hosting the world in Sochi. I am also calling upon the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee to urgently explore every possible option to ensure that the next Olympic and Paralympic Games are hosted in a manner that guarantees the full, safe, and open participation of the LGBTQ community.