Star Trek's 'Sulu' and 45,000 petitioners urge 2014 Games move to Vancouver - Macleans.ca
 

Star Trek’s ‘Sulu’ and 45,000 petitioners urge 2014 Games move to Vancouver


 

VANCOUVER – Activist and actor George Takei, best known as helmsman Lt. Sulu in the original Star Trek series, is boldly going where tens of thousands have gone before, denouncing Russia’s anti-gay laws, calling instead for the 2014 Games to move to Vancouver from Sochi.

He’s the latest celebrity to weigh in on the Olympic controversy, endorsing a petition at Change.org that had garnered more than 55,000 supporters by Wednesday afternoon.

Russia “intends to enforce its laws against visiting LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) athletes, trainers and fans, meaning anyone even so much as waving a rainbow flag (and I presume many men enthusiastically watching and dramatically commenting on figure skating) would be arrested, held for weeks and then deported,” he wrote in a blog post posted Tuesday.

“Given this position, the (International Olympic Committee) must do the right thing, protect its athletes and the fans, and move the 2014 Winter Olympics out of Russia.”

Takei noted Vancouver’s facilities are still in good condition and the city would be the easiest of possible alternatives. Moving the Games, he said, would be much better than a boycott — one of the options touted by some activists.

“A boycott of the games would punish athletes who have trained for years to participate, and a boycott of Russian vodka isn’t going to affect the kind of change needed,” he wrote.

However, Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs said welcoming the Olympics back is not “like putting fresh sheets on the guest bed.”

“I can understand the intention, but practically I don’t see how it could happen,” he said Wednesday, noting Vancouver had seven years to plan the 2010 Games after they were awarded.

“I think lots of people in Vancouver would love to have the Games again, but it’s a question of who would pay for it and how it could possibly be done, and I don’t think we know the answer to either of those questions,” he said.

Meggs added Russia’s policies are reprehensible, and a real step back from the 2010 Games when Vancouver hosted the first “Pride House.”

Takei blogged that Russia’s ban on “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” and its imposition of heavy fines directly contravenes the IOC’s fundamental principals, and he argued such intolerance wouldn’t be accepted if it were aimed at Jews, Roman Catholics or Muslims.

Takei said moving the Games wouldn’t seem like an outlandish proposal if the discrimination was faced by those groups.

Both Meggs and Takei called for stronger leadership from the IOC.

But IOC spokesman Mark Adams said in an emailed statement the IOC has “received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that (anti-gay) legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.”

Russia’s assurances to the IOC seemed to contradict a recent announcement by the country’s sports minister.

“An athlete of non-traditional sexual orientation isn’t banned from coming to Sochi,” Vitaly Mutko said in an interview with R-Sport, the sports newswire of state news agency RIA Novosti. “But if he goes out into the streets and starts to propagandize, then of course he will be held accountable.”

Adams said the nascent nature of Russia’s legislation means it is too early to tell how it will be implemented, particularly with regard to the Games.

“As a sporting organization, what we can do is to continue to work to ensure that the Games can take place without discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators and the media,” he said.

Thousands of Takei’s followers have weighed in on the proposal to move the Games to Vancouver.

“Don’t go to Russia and be beat by Putin, come to Canada to eat some poutine!” one poster, Kevin Dutrisac, wrote on Facebook.

Although most commentators seemed to be supportive, some questioned whether moving the Games would have the biggest impact.

“The best thing would be to expose the Russians’ outlandish laws by massive demonstrations. Entire national teams should march in and out of the ceremonies with rainbow pins,” wrote Thomas McGowan in the comments section of Takei’s blog post.

British actor and writer Stephen Fry also called Wednesday for the Olympics to be moved, writing a letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron and IOC executives asking them not to give Russian President Vladimir Putin “the approval of the civilized world.”

“It is simply not enough to say that gay Olympians may or may not be safe in their village. The IOC absolutely must take a firm stance on behalf of the shared humanity it is supposed to represent against the barbaric, fascist law that Putin has pushed through the Duma,” he wrote in the letter, which he also posted online.

“Let us not forget that Olympic events used not only to be athletic, they used to include cultural competitions. Let us realize that in fact, sport is cultural. It does not exist in a bubble outside society or politics.”


 
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Star Trek’s ‘Sulu’ and 45,000 petitioners urge 2014 Games move to Vancouver

  1. What’s Russia’s problem? Gay people do not spread disease ….. promiscuous people of all types do. You can not stop a gay person from being gay because that’s the way they are. It’s like eye color or hair color.

    • Well, that’s the politically-correct, GLAAD-approved line that gets all the airplay.

      The fact is that the scientific jury is still out on what causes homosexuality; most of the evidence seems to point to a paraphilia-like psychosomatic condition that often develops in early childhood. Contrary to the occasional breathless report of a possible genetic component, no evidence of a “gay gene” has ever been discovered. It’s not at all like eye or hair colour.

      GLAAD and similar lobbying groups however, have been successfully able to effect substantial social change over the last 15 years, by using the “born this way” concept to equate their movement to the civil rights and women’s rights.

      Effective sexual reorientation is probably possible, but is a political hot potato and academic suicide.

      • And that’s the religious, wingnut, go straight to heaven or at the least be raptured line. You say the scientific jury is out and then proceed to diagnose the condition.
        That’s sad.

        • No hairball, I said the scientific jury is out; and then I gave the current consensus hypothesis you can find on the American Psychiatric Association website, the World Health Organization diagnostic taxonomy manual, or even Wikipedia for that matter.
          Nice demagoging though, you sure do hate those mean, evil, x-tians don’t you? Happy hating.

          • You neglected to mention the epi-genetic theories of Rice, Freiberg and Gavrilets. While this isn’t a gay gene theory per se, it certainly isn’t a psychosomatic condition that develops in early childhood. It accounts for the non-hereditary yet innate nature of homosexuality in homosexuals. I understand why you omitted it in your less than exhaustive precis of the “current consensus hypothesis,” it doesn’t really fit you non-innate ideologically based hopes does it.
            http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/668167

            Given the lack of followers I have, you might want to revisit your idea of what demagoguing means.

            Actually I don’t hate xians but I do dislike it when they insist that their hobby should form the basis for law. And unlike xians I actually hold that opinion regardless of religious choice. You sure do hate those gays don’t you? I won’t wish you happy hating as haters shouldn’t be happy. I hope you understand.

          • I neglected their theories because they’re not even close to a majority viewpoint. They’re popular with the GLAAD crowd, but not with researchers. Maybe climate change deniers or creationists turn out to be correct too, but until then I’ll follow the majority consensus.

            As for hating gays, I don’t, there’s several I like and one that I love (yes, yes, I know, the some of my best friends are “X” bit).
            I don’t care where they stick their tackle. However I do think it’s ridiculous to equate an obvious behavior to a state of being like race and gender; and odious to deliberately misrepresent something as genetic that clearly isn’t solely for political gain.
            Particularly because people like you use the spurious status of “Born this way” to hammer down any dissent to the P.C. line on the nature of homosexuality.

            And finally I’m agnostic, so drop the god-bothering bit.

          • I didn’t say you were a god botherer although agnostic is a bit of a cop out; I said your views were ideologically based. You brought the superstitious into this.

            You find gender to be an obvious state of being, but not sexuality; that is interesting. Because I find both gender and sexuality to be a very fluid concept and to some degree so is race. But that said that doesn’t mean that they are not innate qualities. A hermaphrodite is not male or female physically, but what they are is an innate quality. The offspring of a mixed race relationship (yes I know such a coy term) is neither one race nor the other, but their racial state is a state of being regardless of the unsure nature of their actual race. But for some reason when it comes to sexuality, which again is what it is, unless one is just feeling adventurous, classifying it as a state of being is somehow controversial.

            Gender and sexuality are linked yet one is a state of being and the other isn’t. That also seems odd to me and very unlikely. It also seemed odd to the epi-geneticists.

  2. The winter olympics is a rich man’s play thing and consists of the least accessible and most elitist sports on the planet. Not to mention the fact that they are limited to the richest nations and involve a small minority of countries of the earth.
    The sooner this corrupt, elitist waste of time and money is ditched permanently the happier I’ll be

  3. Too little too late. Even if the IOC was to pull the Olympics at this late date and give them to Vancouver, there is the issue of planning an Olympics within 8 months. Sure we have the venues, but the infastructure needs to be built up again over all levels of government in order to handle the influx of people to the games. It would take at least a year of hard preparation to be ready for the olympics again and February is when they happen. Maybe they move the Olympics to November or something, but that plays havoc with the athletes and many of their competitive schedules.