A Shameful Olympic Silence

Olympic sponsors must speak out against anti-LGBT laws in Russia.

Activists participate at a protest against Russia's new law on gays
By and + More
[ Read the U.S. News Debate: Should Gay Marriage be Legal Nationwide?]Here are the steps we recommend:Each company should post its non-discrimination policies prominently on its Russian websites. (All but McDonalds prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity – a strange omission from the creators of the pantaloons-wearing Ronald McDonald.) The statement should mention that the company encourages a safe and open work environment, welcomes LGBT customers and will not tolerate bullying of its LGBT employees. Every company should conduct corporation-wide trainings concerning their non-discrimination policies – a particularly important step for any employee confused by the seeming disparities between Russia's repeated declaration that the laws don't discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, the routine occurrence of gay bashing and anti-gay proclamations (now the Duma is considering offering " reparative therapy" to LGBT people) and their employer's policies. Finally, all of these companies should post their non-discrimination statement on bulletin boards at every one of their factories, distribution centers, stores and offices in Russia. This kind of corporate consistency is not only key to maintaining each company's integrity: it also ensures compliance with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which state that, "All business enterprises have the same responsibility to respect human rights wherever they operate."The time has come for American companies doing business in Russia to demonstrate that their own clearly stated corporate values and policies hold true wherever they set up shop. To do otherwise would mean profiting from their progressive reputation in the West while propping up a homophobic, increasingly fascistic regime in Sochi and beyond.Nancy Goldstein is a Communications Strategist and journalist; Nina Long is Co-President of RUSA LGBT, the Russian Speaking American LGBT Association.