FROM PFLAG NATIONAL:
Dear PFLAG Leaders:
We’ve heard from members across the country wanting to know PFLAG National’s official stance on how best to support the Russian LGBT community, as there are currently a variety of opinions from a variety of people and groups about how to best help.
First and foremost, know that we deplore the horrible treatment by the government of Russia of its LGBT citizens, residents, visitors, and anyone else who expressly supports equality, and hope that in the near future these harmful policies will be revoked.
Though the awareness of the upcoming Winter Olympics to be held in Sochi means a higher level of visibility to the ongoing persecution of the Russian LGBT community, our goal as both a national organization and chapter network is to help not just in the immediacy of this visibility, but beyond that, once most eyes turn away. Additionally, we must make sure that whatever support we offer will be helpful to those most directly affected by the laws and our actions.
To that end, we felt it was important to hear the needs and wishes of those on the ground in Russia, and were fortunate to have this opportunity when PFLAG National’s Director of Policy, Diego Sanchez, along with other organizational policy leaders, sat down last week with members of the Russian LGBT community, some of whom are athletes.
Their message was clear and one that we will honor: “Speak up; don’t walk away.” It is important to them that athletes from around the world compete in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi but that all others—from sponsors, to travelers, to the governments whose athletes participate—use all available influence to bring Russian LGBT people to safety from harm by speaking out against these dangerous and discriminatory laws.
PFLAG National, therefore, will support athletes who will participate in the Olympic Games, while at the same time encourage others who have influence to send a strong message to the Russian government to eliminate their anti-LGBT laws and to celebrate diversity as a value.
PFLAG reaffirms directly our commitment to work with Russian activists and organizations to extend the PFLAG model of engaging families, friends, and allies to provide support to, education of, and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in Russia.
When the Olympic flame is extinguished, PFLAG will not walk away. We believe that, just like in our country, the additional voices of family and allies will be a tipping point for changing laws, hearts and minds.
Thank you all for your thoughtful outreach and questions on this very serious issue. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions that might arise over the coming months.
Yours in PFLAG solidarity,
Jody M. Huckaby, Executive Director,