Out Canadian Councilor to Go to Winter Olympics

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Wednesday December 11, 2013

Vancouver, Canada, councilor Tim Stevenson, who is openly gay, announced on Wednesday that he will go to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, despite the country's anti-gay laws, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports.

City officials debated if Stevenson should go to the Olympics or if Vancouver Mayo Gregor Robertson should attend the event. Officials also discussed whether the city should boycott the Olympics all together.

Russia's anti-gay laws and the country's treatment towards the LGBT community became an international hot topic for countries and cities around the globe, and the issues were a topic during Vancouver's gay pride event this year.

Though several LGBT activists urged for a boycott against the Olympics, Vancouver officials have "decided to take a more proactive approach," the CBC writes.

"Boycotting the Olympics is not very helpful for Olympians and gay and lesbian Olympians, and boycotting products is good but somewhat ineffective," Stevens said. "Vancouver really wanted to make a strong stand, being the previous host city, in light of the fact that Russia has not allowed a Pride House in Sochi. It seemed that the most effective thing that we could do is have me represent the City of Vancouver as an openly gay councilor and deputy mayor."

Nevertheless, Stevenson admits that he is worried about his safety while in Russia, but isn't concerned that his visa will be rejected.

"I have no intention of breaking any Russian laws," he told the CBC. "I have no intention of breaking any country's laws. But I do believe that's the place to go right now."

Next week Stevenson will introduce a motion that will urge the International Olympic Committee to make Pride House a permanent instillation at future Olympics. LGBT activists in Russia have lauded the Pride House.

"Russian media will be discussing this issue and it will be one more chance to increase the level of discussion," Yury Gavrikov, an organizer with the LGBT organization Equality in St. Petersburg, said.