Now that we’re well into the winter Olympic games in Sochi, it’s important to consider the presence of LGBTs at the heavily watched event. 2013 was a year in which human rights, and gay rights in particular, became a global conversation. To say that the gay rights movement, and the ways in which it permeated dialogue surrounding the Olympic games in Sochi isn’t a highly political, important intersection is to deny the progress – and backpedaling – that occurred for human rights in 2013.
According to Huffington Post contributor David Crary, “From one end of the country to the other, the overlapping developments on a single day underscored what a historic year 2013 has been for the U.S. gay-rights movement – ‘the gayest year in gay history,’ according to Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign, the movement’s largest advocacy group.” Indeed, 2013 was certainly a year filled with gay rights progress in the United States, but it was also an issue that spanned countries and continents.
2013 was the year in which nine more U.S. states legalized same-sex marriage. It was the year that commemorated the United States Supreme Court’s strike down of the Defense of Marriage Act, opening up many more doors for same-sex marriage in America. It was the first time that such a visible shift in politics between Democrats and Republicans reflected a growing concern for human rights. As gay Republican political strategist Ken Mehlman notes, “One thing I was very proud of was helping to get 130 Republicans and conservatives to sign an Amicus brief saying that all Americans have a right to marry – a number of those people have since then gone to work to help this fight,” of the tangible change in attitudes of American Republican policy makers.
In 2013, the American Employment Non Discrimination Act made strides against protecting all LGBTs from workplace discrimination. In the same year, Uruguay, New Zealand, Brazil, England, and France legalized same-sex marriage, and Pope Francis famously said, “Who am I to judge?” when asked about his stance on same-sex partnerships. When Russia passed laws against homosexuality, many of the world’s political leaders, celebrities, and activists came out in support of Russian LGBTs, and many athletes and non-athletes alike threatened to boycott the Olympics.
And now, fresh into 2014, the Sochi Olympics are being dubbed the “Gay Olympics” for the conversations surrounding global LGBT rights that Russia unintentionally fueled as a result of the country’s very public discrimination of LGBTs. Says Uri Friedman of The Atlantic, “The Sochi Olympics come during a dizzying period in the history of the global gay-rights movement. Last year witnessed several significant advances for activists…” of how now than ever before, gay rights are at the forefront of the global conversation, and gay and lesbian athletes have gained more visibility than ever.
What do you think? What other human rights achievements made 2013 “the gayest year ever?”