To mark the first day of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Google has taken a public stand over controversial Russian anti-gay laws by draping its homepage Doodle in the rainbow flag.
The continuously changing logo on the Google site has donned the colours that have come to symbolise support for LGBT rights around the world. The images depict 6 different winter sport disciplines, each on a background of colour to make up the rainbow flag.
To further emphasise its stance, Google has posted a quote from the Olympic charter underneath the image: “The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”
The move is a snub to the Russian government who passed laws last July that outlawed pro-gay “propaganda” to under-18s. Activists say that, in reality, the law stamps out virtually any public expression of support for gay rights.
Demonstrations have been held around the world to protest the anti-gay laws and call for a boycott of the Games. In UK newspaper The Guardian this week more than 200 prominent international authors, including Günter Grass, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood and Jonathan Franzen, joined forces to write an open letter condemning the laws they called a “chokehold” on freedom of expression.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also spoke out this week to denounce attacks on the LGBT community. Addressing the International Olympic Committe he said: “The United Nations stands strongly behind our own ‘free and equal’ campaign, and I look forward to working with the IOC, governments and other partners around the world to build societies of equality and tolerance. Hatred of any kind must have no place in the 21st century.”
While Ban Ki-moon did not refer specifically to Russia’s laws his words carry symbolic weight and there was a backlash from some Russians on social media. The chairman of the Russian State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Alexey Pushkov stated: “Focusing on the topic of homosexuals during his speech, Ban Ki-moon is playing up to those who lead the attack on Russia. I do not think it is the role of the UN Secretary General.”