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Ear to the Ground

What’s in a Kiss? Two Russian Athletes Defy Anti-Gay Laws

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Posted on Aug 19, 2013
Athena's Pix (CC BY 2.0)

A smooch can be a romantic or friendly gesture, but in Moscow two women reminded us that it can also be an act of resistance. Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova kissed Saturday on the winners podium as, together with their team, they triumphed in a relay race at the World Athletics Championship. Now, the female athletes could face backlash thanks to Russia’s “gay propaganda” laws. The act can be seen as a promoting being gay, and thus, viewed as a crime.

The homophobic decrees have been causing quite a stir in the LGBT community, but it remains unclear whether the women were making a political statement as neither has spoken about the move. Slate puts the incident into context: 

The kiss came a day after Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva claimed she “may have been misunderstood” by her anti-gay comments that made news around the world Thursday. “English is not my first language and I think I may have been misunderstood when I spoke yesterday,” she said. The popular athlete sparked much controversy when she spoke in favor of the anti-gay propaganda law. “We consider ourselves, like normal, standard people, we just live boys with women, girls with boys,” Isinbayeva had said. Later she backtracked saying that she was just trying to say “people should respect the laws of other countries particularly when they are guests,” according to the Toronto Sun. Isinbayeva made her comments after at least two Swedish athletes competed with their fingernails painted in rainbow colors.

No matter how the kiss was intended, it’s drawn attention to Russia’s oppressive anti-gay laws in a manner more powerful than words.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi

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