So far silence from Olympians on anti-gay laws

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 15, 2014 at 5:20 am •  Published: February 15, 2014
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SOCHI, Russia (AP) — A campaign to draw attention to Russia's anti-gay laws isn't gaining traction among Olympic athletes, who so far have avoided saying or doing anything to protest the measures.

Organizers say they aren't discouraged, though, and believe some athletes still may speak out before the games are over.

"We think athlete voices are still powerful in this debate," said Andre Banks, executive director of AllOut, one of the groups protesting the laws. "But at the end of the day it's up to the athlete to find the moment to make that expression."

Midway through the Olympics, no athletes have found that moment, and the issue of gay rights has largely faded into the background at the games. But Banks held out hope that one or more athletes would make a public stand while in Sochi.

"We expect as games go on there may be other expressions," Banks said in a phone interview from New York. "It's good enough for me right now, though, that people are speaking up surrounding the games."

AllOut and fellow group Athlete Ally had wanted Olympians to display the logo P6 to draw attention to Principle Six of the Olympic Charter that says discrimination in any form is not compatible with the Olympic movement. They had also hoped that athletes would speak out against Russian laws banning gay "propaganda" from reaching minors.

Protesters in several cities around the world targeted major Olympic sponsors in the days before the Winter Games started, urging them to speak out against the laws. That prompted several U.S. sponsors to issue statements saying they are against intolerance or discrimination, though none specifically mentioned the Russian laws.

Hudson Taylor, the founder and executive director of Athlete Ally, said he was not discouraged by the near total silence from athletes on the subject.

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