It looks like Vancouver City Councillor Tim Stevenson will be traveling to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games after all.
The Russian government has approved the openly gay councillor’s application for a visa to travel to Sochi. Stevenson will be acting as Vancouver’s deputy mayor and will lobby the International Olympic Committee to expand the non-discrimination clause within the sport organization’s Olympic Charter so that it will also cover sexual orientation. He will also make a push to make Pride Houses a requirement for future host cities.
Pride Houses were first introduced at Vancouver and Whistler during the 2010 Winter Games and were also repeated in London during the 2012 Summer Games.
The meeting sites are designed to be ‘safe’ and supportive gathering places for athletes and coaches who identify as LGBTQ.
Within the atmosphere of its recently passed anti-gay laws that widely promote hostile treatment against gays, Russia did not permit the establishment of a Pride House during Sochi 2014. A Russian judge went as far as banning it from the Games, calling it “extremist” and a danger to “public morality.” Some laws were also a cause for concern for those athletes, officials, media and tourists who identify as gay.
This comes from a country that did not remove homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses only until 1999.
For these reasons, there were doubts that Stevenson’s visa would be approved and it also comes after the issue of the trip’s funding when local developers offered to foot the bill. Instead, due to a potential conflict of interest, taxpayers will be responsible for the cost of his 10-day trip.
Image: Gay Whistler Winter Pride