NEW YORK >>NBC is assuring its gay and lesbian employees who may cover the Winter Olympics in Sochi that it will do everything possible to keep them safe following Russia’s passage of anti-gay law.
The network said in a memo that it finds Russia’s law and the prejudices it represents to be “deeply troubling and diametrically opposed to everything that the Olympics symbolize.” The note by Craig Robinson, NBC Universal’s executive vice president and chief diversity officer, was sent Thursday to all company employees who have identified themselves as gay or lesbian.
Russia’s law, signed by President Vladimir Putin in June, bans “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” and sets fines for those who hold gay pride rallies. It is a growing issue leading up to the Feb. 7-23 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
NBC and its cable partners are telecasting the Olympics in the United States. It’s not sure how many employees they will be sending to Sochi. In past Olympics, some 3,000 people worked during the games for NBC, although some of them were not in the host country.
Robinson wrote in his memo that “your security is paramount and we will do everything possible to protect the rights, safety and well-being of our employees.”
He said that Russia’s law violates the International Olympic Committee’s charter calling sports a human right that every individual must be able to practice without discrimination.
“The spirit of the Olympic Games is about unifying people and countries through the celebration of sport and it is our very strong hope that spirit prevails,” Robinson wrote. “Until then, we have and will continue to cover these human rights violations on our broadcast and cable news networks as the story continues to evolve.”
Some gay and lesbian rights organizations have called for a boycott of the Olympics over the issue.
Andrew Miller, a member of the rights group Queer Nation, said he believes any response to Russia’s law must extend beyond Sochi and protect gay and lesbian Russians after the Olympics are over.