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J.M. Sorrell: Russia’s inhumane policy toward gays is madness

To the editor:

In 1980, our country along with others boycotted the Olympics in the Soviet Union. President Jimmy Carter spearheaded this effort as a response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Our government gave arms to who we refer to as the Taliban today to defeat the Soviets there. This was still the Cold War era. Our government was not in the business of supporting democracy per se but in defeating “communism” by any means necessary.

Today we are faced with a far less ambiguous reason to boycott the Olympics in Russia. President Vladimir Putin says, in general (for anyone visiting at any time), that a law will be enforced whereby visitors of Russia who are “suspected” of being lesbian or gay will be jailed for up to 15 days and then sent home never to be allowed back into Russia again. He has expanded on this now by warning athletes, supporters and others specifically involved in the Olympics that anyone who openly “promotes” homosexuality may be jailed and sent home.

By criminalizing people for who they love, Putin is violating human rights on a large scale. If our country is indeed invested in democratic ideals — fairness, justice and freedom — then we cannot possibly participate in the 2014 Olympics. The global community can create an alternative to these games.

Many heterosexuals are not safe in Russia, either. Imagine the women and men who support LGBT rights. What about the men and women who do not fit the stereotypes of macho and submissive? Where would the persecution end? This is madness.

J.M. Sorrell

Haydenville

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