The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
8 Points

The Gay Rights Campaigns regarding the Olympic games in Sochi, could cause more harm than good

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/10/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,019 times Debate No: 45581
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (2)




Whilst, for the moment, the worlds eyes are on Sochi, we are unlikely to see any of the extreme violence perpetrated by the Russian authorities against the LGBT community, at least not within Sochi. However, eventually that gaze will stray at which point the situation becomes far more dangerous for those who may have taken this brief window of opportunity, encouraged by the western media, to speak out with regards to this issue in a way that challenges the morality or authority of Russian Law.

In this vein it maybe the case that Social Media and the International Press are lulling some Russian LGBT Members into a false state of security. That they are news and therefore untouchable, neglecting to realise that news is temporary yet the threat of constant abuse is far far more long lasting.


Sure, I'll take up the mantle here and argue that the gay rights campaign occurring concurrently with and around the Olympic games in Sochi will be more beneficial than not. Thank you to MrMagic for making the debate, and this looks like it will be a stirring argument.

I think the majority of this argument is obvious, but first, I'd like to get into background on why we're having this conversation in the first place, as Pro hasn't stated why Russia is in this mess. This link gives a bit more background,[1] but I'll quote the important bits:

"In June 2013, the Russian duma in Moscow passed a new law banning the 'propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships' to minors. The new federal law is closely related to several regional laws that were already on the books, all of which seek to penalize "propaganda" of homosexuality, generally with the intent of "protecting" minors. The city of Sochi, which is the site of the upcoming Winter Olympics, has one of those regional laws in place. And while the regional laws are not uniform, like the new federal law, they all tend to advance vague definitions of propaganda that lend themselves to the targeting and ongoing persecution of the country"s LGBT community. The language of this new law focuses on 'non-traditional' sexual relationships, to contrast with 'traditional values' or 'traditional family' language that Russia is promoting at the UN to oppose positive statements supporting the human rights of LGBT people."

I think this pretty well summarizes what the LGBT community in Russia faces. Now, why should we care? It's because we hold to two basic values: that freedom of speech is important so long as that speech does no egregious harm, and that no individual group should be discriminated against by enacting a law.

In the former case, I think it's pretty obvious that when you make it illegal to discuss a certain subject, you're restricting freedom of speech. Let's forget for a moment about what kind of speech they're prohibiting, and instead talk about what kind of speech is normally prohibited and why. In the U.S., you cannot yell "fire" in a crowded theater. Why? Because that theater is full of people who are likely to panic. That panic will cause them to trample others as they make their way to the exit, causing injuries and possible deaths. This is a case of speech being used to cause direct, easily perceived harms. Generally, we perceive these kinds of injuries and deaths to be bad. As this word was directly involved in their occurrence, we can safely say that it was reprehensible to utilize speech for that purpose. Where is the harm in this case? Some might argue that the discussion of homosexual relationships somehow tarnishes marriage or mars the minds of young children, but those are subjective moral reasons without a basis in objective harms. Therefore, abridging the freedom of speech in this instance isn't justified.

Why should we care? Well, when a country decides that it's perfectly fine to suppress voices that dissent from popular views, this allows them to decide what is and is not legal speech based solely on what the government feels is morally right. No one will be able to speak without fear that their words won't land them with a fine or jail time, especially not if they're of a minority group. The freedom of speech is an integral portion of any free society, and a government that suppresses that right is not a government of the people.

In the latter case, the Russian government is essentially stating that it is morally wrong to discuss homosexuality with minors. Heterosexuality is fine, homosexuality is not. As such, it's that homosexual minority group that has its rights trod upon. Children cannot be educated about homosexuality to any extent, and words about it are essentially taboo from everyday conversation, since any child may overhear. As a result, homosexuality disappears from the public consciousness, relegated to back rooms as though it were talk of revolution. Homosexuality shouldn't be regarded as something to be shunned or dismissed. Discrimination should not be enforced by a democratic government that is supposed to be accountable to the people.

Now, why do I mention all this? These likely aren't points my opponent will contend are wrong, after all. But that's just the problem here. He's advocating that the LGBT community remain silent in their anguish, essentially ignoring the grievous harms perpetrated on those among them on Russian soil. He's advocating that they bear it silently, taking to those back rooms and acting like everything is fine during these Olympics, and that every foreign nation should be similarly silent. No one should protest. In so doing, he is arguing for these harms to persist.

They should not be allowed to do so. The LGBT world community should not sit idly by while an opportunity to put the Russian government on trial slips through their fingers. The Russian LGBT community should not be afraid to grasp the microphone and speak into it so that everyone hears about the transgressions of their despotic leadership. Their oppression should be a thing of the past, yet they've endured it for far too long. No more. This is where it should stop. Not next month or next year, not when the opportunity has passed them by. Now.

I'll just place a bit of rebuttal here before I end. Pro talks about the possibility of extreme violence following the end of the Olympic games. I've got a number of responses.

1) This isn't likely to happen. The very social media he thinks is luring them into a false sense of security is a constant watchdog. Pictures and videos of any violence would become common knowledge in a matter of hours, if not minutes, around the world. Putin will know this, and he realizes that any measure of violent behavior from him will result in tremendous backlash from the international community.

2) It's likely to be effective, and therefore this won't happen. Enough soft power pressure on those in the Russian government will change minds, especially if people make it clear just how big of an issue this is. Sochi is the perfect stage, and opportunity to sway hearts and minds. At the very least, it's likely to tell them what kind of swell they are up against and make them think twice before enforcing this unjust law. At most, this will push them towards repealing it.

3) Violence isn't always bad. As I stated before, social media will document and distribute knowledge of any violent acts perpetrated. That's a good thing, even if it happens. It means they're defending their basic ideals, and as the number of people worldwide who are willing to stand with them only grows in numbers, they will have a huge amount of support in their fight for rights and justice. Most of the major rights movements of the past had to endure unjust violence from their governments in order to get the rights they seek. The black community in America had to undergo violent trials and tribulations for their freedoms, otherwise they would have been continually denied to them. They realized that the costs of letting their rights slip away were higher than those they would pay in the short term by resisting.

4) Any violence will receive a powerful response. The LGBT community in Russia will be seen as protesters being injured and killed. They will almost certainly intervene, threatening sanctions and Russia's position in the international community, something the government cannot afford to lose.

With that, I kick it back to Pro to further explain his case and respond to my arguments.

Debate Round No. 1


Firstly I owe an apology and a thank you to Con for providing the context for this particular debate with regards to Russian law and Politics. However a key, one could even say defining, element of this context was omitted, no doubt unknowingly as the full context with regards to public sexual acts and protest acts within Russia is not a particularly known or pretty one.

In 2008, a self defined "Art Terrorist Group" named Voina staged an incredibly graphic protest at the Biological Museum of Moscow in which several heterosexual couples engaged in public intercourse. (

Equally in 2010 Voina won a state funded award of Innovation for an illegal Graffiti drawing of a Phallus on a draw bridge. "When the bridge was raised the erect phallus faced the local headquarters of the FSB, the successor to the KGB." (

Again in 2010, in a most impressive and equally disturbing physical feat, Voina posted a video of one of their female members stealing a Chicken from a supermarket by hiding it within her genitalia. (

After 2012 Voina had all but vanished due to arrest warrants being issued and many of the group going into hiding. Yet several of its key activists formed separate organisations, the most internationally famous of these has to be, thanks to Amnesty International, Pu*sy Riot.

Whilst I completely agree with Con that the loosely worded "Anti-propaganda Law" is not in anyway an acceptable or responsible way of tackling/preventing the above from happening, the Russian public do deserve to have enforced (as is in all western countries) some form of indecency law that is not simply referred to as generic hooliganism. This was an imperative part of the context leading up to the passing of this law and I say this to highlight that whilst many of the factors that led to this bill passing were shades of homophobia at best, there were also some factors that were legitimate public considerations and these have not been addressed by this bill or by the mass media.

However, I am digressing from the original premise so please allow me to return.

To rebut your assumption that I am advocating Silence. You are wrong, I advocate protest within the limits of personal safety. This is where I see the issue being, that there are those in Russia who are protesting well outside of the bounds of their own safety and there are those in Europe/US who are, whilst trying to force LGBT Equality through actions such as boycotts, driving the LGBT Communities in Russia to be even further shunned as they (the LGBT Communities) are accused of damaging the perspective of the Sochi Games.

In regards to extreme Violence, I refer you to one of the most harrowing documentaries on Russian LGBT life entitled "Hunted" ( where the crew of channel four's Dispatches program follow Russia's "Occupy Paedophilia" group, an anti-gay organisation which actively lures gay men into ambushes where they are violently attacked, forced to strip naked, give their name and address and often have piss poured over them whilst the whole encounter is filmed and then posted on-line. It's an abominable way to treat another human being and this group is still posting a new "captured" video, daily.

Human Rights Watch have also created similar documentaries detailing this group.

In the climate of such violence and knowing full well that the Russian Police will do nothing to help you or stop the violence against you, acting as if you had already obtained the rights you are fighting for and in turn having no hesitation to publicise yourself within these campaigns is reckless, doubly so if you have dependants such as children or other relatives that rely on you.

Points 2, 3 and 4 that you raise are all interconnected though Point 3 is very easily dealt with. Simply put, you are categorically incorrect when you write "Violence isn't always bad". In fact violence is always bad. There is not one western country that does not have a law stating violence against others to be illegal. Neither do I accept the idea that if someone unprovoked, came up to me or you, out of the blue and committed a violent act upon us, that we wouldn't attribute that as being bad (or at least more bad than good if we are to consider the two as opposing ends of a spectrum).

As for point 2, you state calmly that the approach of these campaigns is likely to yield the desired changes. Russian society is notoriously resilient to external influences. It is also deeply rooted within Russian Orthodoxy which considers homosexuality a Mortal sin and the legalisation of gay marriage as a sign of the apocalypse ( The campaign techniques which are being employed now have been used extensively for the last 15 years in Russia, with still little to no effect.

Point 4 is with regards to Russia's position in the international community, however Russia's greatest allies are middle eastern countries, many of whom expressly have laws criminalizing homosexuality, and China who are also lagging far behind in terms of Gay Rights (there are no anti-discrimination laws with regards to sexual orientation and gay couples are forbidden to adopt). I fail to see either of these regions waging in to defend gay rights or levying sanctions.

The backlash after the games by groups such as the one mentioned above, as well as by the police and the FSB and any one challenged by the LGBT Community, I can only see that causing more harm than good and this backlash is being brought about as a direct result of these campaigners and their lack of responsible precautions to protect themselves and others.


I appreciate my opponent's expounding on his argument, though I would have liked to have this background available in the first round. Nonetheless, I will be happy to engage with his argument.

With regards to the background on graffiti and public sex acts, I think Pro put it best: "I completely agree with Con that the loosely worded "Anti-propaganda Law" is not in anyway an acceptable or responsible way of tackling/preventing the above from happening."

This is not appropriate policy. Russia already has anti-graffiti laws, though they are themselves problematic,[1] and I would say that it is much simpler to ban public sex acts and nudity as a whole. Such a law as this is not justified, and so far, Pro has not offered a single reason why this specific law is beneficial.

So long as Pro does not provide any support for this law, he is reliant on the harms of protest to win this debate, and therefore the law as it stands serves as my positive matter. Extend all my arguments about the importance of free speech and that Russia not engage in discrimination, as those go unaddressed.

The only response Pro places on this is that he's not advocating silence. I have a few responses here. First, Pro is shifting his case away from the resolution. Look back at that topic:

"The Gay Rights Campaigns regarding the Olympic games in Sochi, could cause more harm than good."

This isn't specifically talking about a certain kind of protest, it's talking about all of the gay rights campaigns during these Olympic games. If he meant a specific subset of protests during these games, he should have made that clear in his first post. It shifts me out of some of my argumentation from R1 by specifying his case this late in the debate. Second, I'm not sure what is outside the limit of "personal safety." He provides all of one example: boycotts. I'd like a little more specificity here, because at this point, I have no idea what causes violence against the LGBT community in Pro's estimation and what doesn't. We get the vague idea increased visibility is bad, but no clue as to what safe protest looks like or how effective it is. Third, Pro argues that the movement should essentially have all of its teeth removed, taking away any capacity to make any reasonable impact during these games. I would argue that boycotts are one of the few methods available to bring home their message without pursuing violence. I don't know what Pro wants them to use to make their case, but he's removing options, and by removing peaceful methods, he makes it more likely that they will engage in violent methods out of sheer frustration. More importantly, he does this in a way that is not likely to reduce violence against the LGBT community.

This isn't hard for me to prove. The subject of the documentary "Hunted" isn't resulting from any boycotts, it's coming from a group of people who hates gay people. They view all homosexuals as pedophiles, and take vigilante justice on them for that perceived crime.[3] Fewer boycotts wouldn't stop this. The only way this goes down is if homosexuals go into hiding, or, in other words, engage in absolute silence. If my opponent is arguing that, then he buying into my arguments against silence. It also yields to them, essentially letting bigots control their protests as well as Russian policy. If Pro is arguing that they should engage in other public methods, he'll have to state why that will lead to fewer people being targeted.

Now, onto defending my violence points.

1) Pro isn't at all responsive to this point. Exposing the actions of the Russian police and vigilante groups to a wider audience is sufficient to incite international action, even if that action is simply of foreign LGBT groups.

2) You have a bit of dissonance between your points here and those on 4. Russia's resilient to external influences, but other countries that criminalize homosexuality directly affect their choices. I'm not sure why a mass boycott is ineffective when the Olympics are supposed to be a big money-maker for a country that desperately needs it either. As the jobs created by hosting the Olympics are short term, they'll need to make more than decent money in order to benefit.[4] There are certainly issues to be had with using the same tactics as previous in this case, but since the international community is now involved, the effects of making a stink are far larger. The past failures of the movement have been against local governments, which are more intransigent. More importantly, for all Pro purports that these techniques are ineffective, he offers none of his own, and therefore doesn't improve on the situation. In fact, all he does is reduce the options available, making it more hopeless.

3) Pro says that violence is always bad. This isn't really responsive to my point. Pro is apparently interpreting my argument as being supportive of violence from the protesters. I never said that. I said that sometimes enduring increased violence is preferable to yielding before bigotry. I gave the example of the black civil rights movement in America, which endured incredible beatings, hangings, unjust incarcerations, and more to earn their civil rights. We would all prefer that no one have to endure violence, but the reality is that vigilante groups and Russian police discrimination doesn't just disappear if homosexuals do less to support their rights. And doing less will only ensure that they are stuck behind that wall of anti-homosexuality for longer, with more oppressive laws on the way.

4) This is a good point. Pro is right that Russia is very close to some allies in the Middle East (Iran and Syria come to mind), and China. However, that doesn't mean that the Western world has no sway here. The European Union is by far their biggest import and export market. A large proportion of its imports come from Japan and the U.S., and much of their exports go the other way as well.[5] They're currently a part of the permanent UN Security Council, and highly value that position to protect their interests abroad.[6] This is particularly important: it is precisely this relationship with Middle Eastern countries that they need to retain this position, and the more that they stress that relationship by harming their human rights record, the more they threaten to lose that position. Their chances of joining NATO will only become more distant as well.[7] These are things they can't afford simply for slightly improving relations with their current allies. They have far more incentive to remove the law following the application of international pressures from the Western world.

So what's going on in this debate? What we have from Pro is an argument that says that we should focus on reducing violence to LGBT people in Russia. We should do this by reducing the number of methods they have to pursue equal rights by some vague amount. At the very least, this will substantially decrease their possible routes of protest. At worst, it completely defangs the movement, removing their capacity to affect any change. He provides no reason to believe that violence will go down by doing this and says there are alternatives without stating what they are and how they can be successful. In the meantime, Pro is granting all of the harms of the current anti-gay rights policy, and then handicapping them in an effort to protect them. It simply doesn't seem practical.

Back to Pro.

Debate Round No. 2


MrMagic forfeited this round.


Well, I'm not going to act like I'm not disappointed. MrMagic put up a really good post last round, even though he also tried to modify the debate at that time. I was looking forward to another solid post to wrap up this debate. Sadly, it appears I will, once again, be denied an opportunity to engage in a full debate.

I don't have much to add, as I already spent the end of the last round summarizing the arguments as I see them. However, I will add just one thing.

I have no doubt that the LGBT community in Russia is going to face trials following the end of the Sochi Olympic games. Perhaps there will, indeed, be a renewed vigor as anti-homosexual groups take to violence once again. But the response to this isn't to kowtow, even if that just means reducing the number of methods that the LGBT community uses. They face the threat of violence every day, and the last thing they should do is handicap themselves in their fight for equality. If nothing else, they should not create the image that bigots such as those they face can control their actions, even in protests. Sochi needs to be an opportunity to involve the international community in order to prevent such transgressions as they have faced in the future, and thus an opportunity to give their protests the teeth they need to produce results. The Russian government won't change immediately, and I'm not expecting them to do so, but with enough pressure, they will eventually be forced to change the way they regard this minority. And the last thing they should want to do is release some of that pressure at this key moment, with the eyes of the entire world watching.
Debate Round No. 3
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2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by kbub 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Nice debate! FF.
Vote Placed by TheLastMan 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Another forfeit. Sad, very sad, poor whiteflame.