WASHINGTON, December 2 (RIA Novosti) – US gay rights activists on Monday announced the launch of a clothing line aimed at protesting controversial Russian laws on homosexuality at the Winter Olympics in Sochi and have enlisted a prominent US apparel company and Sochi-bound athletes in the initiative.
US clothier American Apparel will produce a branded clothing line for the “Principle 6” campaign, a reference to the Olympic Charter’s decree that discrimination based on race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is “incompatible” with the Olympic movement, gay rights advocacy groups Athlete Ally and All Out said in a statement.
The campaign provides an avenue to protest a Russian law banning the promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships to minors without running afoul of law enforcement authorities in Sochi or violating the Olympic ban on political speech, Athlete Ally executive director Hudson Taylor said.
“This campaign is not about politics, it’s about principles,” Taylor said in the statement.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in June signed the controversial legislation, sparking calls from some gay rights activists to boycott the February 7-23 Olympics in Sochi.
While the law’s proponents argue that it is aimed at protecting children from harmful influences and does not prevent adults from making their own choices, critics allege that the move restricts freedom of speech and is part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community.
American Apparel will begin selling the branded clothing for the campaign on January 1, and the organizers have enlisted 34 Olympians and professional athletes to serve as representatives for the initiative, including Belle Brockhoff, an openly gay Australian snowboarder expected to compete in Sochi.
“Principle 6 is a way for everyone, everywhere to celebrate the values that inspire the Olympic Games while showing support for equality in Russia,” Brockhoff said in a statement Monday.
New Zealand speed skater Blake Skjellerup, a Sochi hopeful who is also openly gay, has also signed on as a representative for the campaign, as has Canadian alpine skier Mike Janyk.
Other notable athletes who have signed on include National Basketball Association star Steve Nash, tennis legend and former US Olympian Martina Navratilova, and former world No. 1 tennis player Andy Roddick, who also competed for the United States in the Olympics.