A gay rights campaign has become an official sponsor of the men’s and women’s Australian bobsled teams at the Sochi Winter Games.
Named after the principle opposing discrimination in the Olympic Charter, Principle 6 is a campaign advocating for an end to Russia’s anti-gay laws.
The campaign, launched by Athlete Ally and All Out, has produced a video, launched a clothing line and has enlisted the support of more than 40 Olympic athletes. Now it’s taken its activism a step further.
Buzzfeed has reported that the Principle 6 logo will be included on the teams’ bobsleds in all races leading up to and including the Sochi Games.
“We’re against discrimination in sport, full stop,” said Heath Spence, captain of the Australian Men’s bobsled team. “That means we also oppose discrimination against gay and lesbian athletes.”
“We don’t just believe that on principle — some of our most loyal supporters have been gay,” Heath said. “They’ve supported us, so it would be hypocritical of us not to support them… We’re proud to have the Principle 6 badge on our sleds.”
Brian Ellner, a founding board member of Athlete Ally, commented: “As Putin tries to put on a friendly face in the weeks leading up to the opening ceremonies at Sochi, it’s never been more important to shine a bright light on Russia’s cruel anti-gay laws.”
Russia’s gay propaganda laws bar any expression of or support for LGBTI equality that might be seen, read or heard by minors. The federal and regional laws have fuelled a wave of anti-gay sentiment in the country and have led to the banning of events and protests such as Pride marches.
While some activists have called for a boycott of the Sochi Games, others believe the event can be strategically used to highlight the plight of Russia’s LGBTI community.