The day before the 2014 Olympic Games were to start, Google took a step against Russian anti-gay law and discrimination. The internet giant’s latest Google Doodle features 6 athletes across a rainbow banner and a quotation from the Olympic Charter.
“The practice of sport is a human right,” reads the quote from the Olympic Charter underneath a rainbow-colored sports doodle.
“Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”
The rainbow flag, , designed in San Francisco in 1978, has become a symbol of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities in many countries across the world. The Doodle was visible across international sites, including Russia’s, as the Olympic games began in Sochi.
Russia’s practice of restricting the rights of gay citizens and banning anything it deems “homosexual propaganda,” as well as President Vladimir Putin’s discriminatory statements on the matter, have played a front-and-center role in the run-up to the Olympic Games, says Mashable.
Google’s move came as US President Barack Obama said that he had included gay athletes in the US Olympic delegation to show that America was against discrimination in sport and wider life. Mr. Obama included openly gay figure skater Brian Boitano and women’s hockey player Caitlin Cahow in the US delegation for the opening ceremony for the Games on Friday.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said it was forbidden by the Olympic Charter and Russian law to spread propaganda during a sporting event.
Russia’s legislation, signed by President Vladimir Putin last July outlaws pro-gay “propaganda” that could be accessible to minors, but campaigners say it stamps out virtually any public expression of support for gay rights.
Chad Griffin from the Human Rights Campaign said: “Google has once again proven itself to be a true corporate leader for equality.
“Alongside Olympic sponsors like AT&T, Google has made a clear and unequivocal statement that Russia’s anti-LGBT discrimination is indefensible. Now it’s time for each and every remaining Olympic sponsor to follow their lead. The clock is ticking, and the world is watching.”
And, in a speech to the International Olympic Committee on Thursday, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, spoke out against attacks on the LGBT community. He said that “many professional athletes, gay and straight, are speaking out against prejudice”.
There have been widespread protests over the decision to hold the Games in Russia, which bans providing information on homosexuality to under-18s by law. Gay rights activists in 19 cities across the world spoke out earlier this week.
As Mirror reports, Russian security services are already on high alert for radical Islamic terrorists who have launched a campaign of suicide bombings in the area in recent weeks. America’s Department of Homeland Security has even issued a warning to all US airlines with direct flights to Russia that bombs could be hidden in toothpaste and make-up carried by passengers.
A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.