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Sochi posters provoke

Quebec LGBT group launches campaign material it hopes will be used around the world

Fondation Émergence used few words on its posters in the hope they’ll be used around the world in the lead-up to the Sochi Olympic Games. Credit: ????

A Quebec LGBT organization hopes its eye-catching Sochi 2014 campaign will encourage more people to rally against Russia’s discriminatory anti-gay laws and will show Russian LGBT people that the world is behind them.

On Nov 1, Fondation Émergence launched the campaign by releasing two striking posters: one of male hockey players kissing and another of female snowboarders doing the same.

The posters read “Sochi 2014” in stylized script — a nearly wordless design intended to make the posters usable across the globe, says Martine Roy, Fondation Émergence’s president.

The Montreal-based advocacy group is known for its annual International Day Against Homophobia organizing, as well as for campaigns that touch on everything from support for LGBT seniors to workplace rights. Under Russia’s new bill, dubbed the “anti-gay-propaganda law,” both the posters and the acts depicted on them, if done in public, could be considered “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations amongst minors.” Offenders, both citizens and visitors, can be fined or jailed if found guilty.

“We find it is incredible we are going backwards like this, especially in Russia,” Roy says of the bill, which the Russian parliament passed unanimously in June.

“It made me very scared because when you see a country as influential as Russia, as big as Russia, turning around like this, deciding to put such a law in place, it means it can happen to us.”

In a statement in French posted to Fondation Émergence’s website, Roy condemns the law for violating freedom of expression — especially in its much-criticized ambiguity — and for how it may incite intolerance.

She also criticizes the International Olympic Committee for not condemning the law, especially given its contravention of paragraph six of the Olympic Charter, which takes a stance against discrimination during the Games.

In her statement, Roy calls Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assurance that athletes will be respected during the Games “a strategy to ease tensions and to help forget this homophobic law that will continue to harm Russian LGBT communities and to put them in danger once the Olympic Games are finished.”

Fondation Émergence has prepared 5,000 copies of the posters and matching stickers with the help of funding from the Quebec government. The campaign material, along with information about the Russian law, is available at fondationemergence.org.