New York, NY (December 2, 2013) — The gay activist group Queer Nation will protest an appearance by gay figure skater and NBC Olympic commentator Johnny Weir at Barnard College to demand that NBC tell the truth about the dire circumstances of LGBT Russians.
“In advance of its broadcast of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Russia, NBC has embarked on a disinformation campaign to minimize the plight of LGBT Russians in order to justify its involvement in the Games,” said Duncan Osborne, a member of Queer Nation.
“NBC has had the openly gay Johnny Weir, a former figure skater, and Thomas Roberts, the openly gay MSNBC anchor, make public comments that suggest that Russia’s anti-gay laws are not harming LGBT Russians,” Osborne continued. “But those laws have led to the arrest and imprisonment of LGBT Russians, and have resulted in de facto state-sanctioned beatings, torture, rape, and murder of Russian lesbians and gay men. NBC should stop deceiving the public and tell the truth.”
In June, Russia enacted a law that effectively bans any pro-LGBT statement in public or private and on the Internet. Russia also barred adoptions of Russian children by anyone living in a jurisdiction that allows same sex marriage.
The Russian parliament recently proposed legislation that would allow the government to remove children from a household headed by a gay or lesbian parent. While that legislation has been withdrawn ahead of the Olympics, activists believe the parliament will reintroduce it after the Games are over.
Weir, a self-described Russophile, has continued to praise Russia since these laws were enacted and said he would not comment on the laws while he is a figure skating commentator for NBC during the Olympics. His biography at the Premiere Speakers Bureau at www.premierespeakers.com says Weir “works with the Russian Children’s Welfare Society and Russian Consulate in New York City.” Weir is, in effect, a spokesman for the Russian government.
Updated with photo by Versha Sharma