A co-founder of the You Can Play project, aimed at combating homophobia in sport, reveals the organization is working with Canadian and American hockey teams on protests during the Sochi Winter Olympics, The New Civil Rights Movement site reports.
At a National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association conference held in Boston, Massachusetts, last month, Patrick Burke, a scout with the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team, told the conference that there's a lot unfolding "behind the scenes that will frustrate people because it won’t be made public until you see an athlete on a medal stand or at closing ceremonies."
He says there are talks about using diplomatic channels to "get things into the country," adding that Russian authorities have indicated they would confiscate rainbow flags and pins if they are found in luggage.
Russia's passage of a series of anti-gay laws has sparked global condemnation and multiple worldwide protests in the leadup to the Games next year.
Burke said there were concerns about a backlash. "One is government. Where a journalist or athlete, whoever it might be, is arrested or is, you know, fined, is deported," he noted. "The second is non-governmental groups."
He elaborated: "We looked into securing a Pride House in Sochi. One of my very good friends basically runs the Continental Hockey League and he knows every Russian billionaire out there. We said what would it take to get a Pride House? He said he’d ‘need security.’ Well, yeah, get some security guards. He said, ‘No, someone would shoot it up.’ He said, ‘You would need ex-KGB to secure it. You guys can’t afford that.’ Well, probably not. So there’s concern on my end about non-governmental groups taking matters into their own hands."
Burke also said he thinks athletes are going to be safe. Still, he suggests that if an athlete or journalist does something "excessively provocative" from the "Russian point of view," athletes could be deported.
"I don’t think you’re going to see fines. I don’t think you’re going to see arrests. I think you’re going to see — someone waves a rainbow flag on the podium, you go right from the podium to an airplane. You get sent home,” he says.
While Burke had told conference attendees that he couldn't divulge too much about the planned protests out of concern that Russian authorities would get wind of the plans and attempt to thwart them, his remarks were recorded and published on an anti-gay website, MassResistance, with the headline, "Plans to smuggle pro-LGBT propaganda into Russia and disrupt Olympics revealed at 'gay' journalists convention in Boston."
Burke's comments were also published on another conservative site, LifeSiteNews, under the headline "Mainstream Media Coverup Plans to Have Olympics Athletes Smuggle Gay Propaganda into Russia," and additionally on World Net Daily.