Winter Olympics 2014: Norway’s Health Minister to take his husband to Paralympics

 

Brussels

When Norway’s Health Minister arrives in Sochi as his country’s official representative at the Winter Paralympics, he knows who he wants by his side as he cheers on the national team. “It’s natural to take Dag Terje along when attending this type of event,” Bent Høie he told Norwegian media this week, referring to his husband, Dag Terje Solvang.

Bringing one’s spouse to a sporting event should indeed be an unremarkable event, but the Sochi Winter Olympics begin on Friday amid a chorus of condemnation over new laws in Russia seen as discriminating against the gay and lesbian community. So the attendance of a happily married same-sex couple openly speaking about their relationship sends a powerful signal.

“Everyone understands what two men who are married think about gay rights,” Mr Høie told the Stavanger Aftenblad newspaper.

Activists and members of Russia’s gay community will be hoping for more expressions of support over the coming weeks as the spotlight falls on the country for the Winter Games. Protesters took to the streets of 19 cities around the world today to urge sponsors to condemn laws against “gay propaganda” signed by President Vladimir Putin last July.

The legislation criminalises the act of providing information about homosexuality to anyone under 18. Members of the gay community say the broad wording leaves it open to interpretation and in effect bans public support for gay rights. The United Nations committee on children’s rights has urged Russia to repeal the law, warning that the “vague definitions of propaganda leads to the targeting and ongoing persecution of the country’s [gay] community, including abuse and violence.”

AT&T, the telecoms giant and US Olympic Committee sponsor, became the first big American company to respond to calls for support from the All Out activist group, publishing a blog condemning “violence, discrimination and harassment” against the gay and lesbian community.

Protesters in London joined 19 cities around the world yesterday in speaking out against Russia’s anti-gay laws (EPA) Protesters in London joined 19 cities around the world yesterday in speaking out against Russia’s anti-gay laws (EPA)
Activists hope to convince other sponsors, including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Visa and Samsung to issue similar denunciations. “These brands have spent millions to align themselves with the Olympics, but have repeatedly refused to support the Games’ founding principles,” said Andre Banks of the All Out campaign.

While some activists are calling for a boycott of the Games, world leaders and politicians have deployed different tactics to express their dismay at the rolling back of gay rights. David Cameron, the French President François Hollande and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel have all turned down their invitations to Sochi, but have not explicitly linked their snub to the controversial laws.

The EU’s Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, made clear on her Twitter account that she would not go “as long as minorities are treated the way they are”. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, sent a clear message when he announced he would skip the games but was sending two openly gay athletes – including the former tennis champion Billie Jean King – as part of the official US delegation.

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

In the driving seat: Peter Kay

Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road