Patrick Burke, founder of You Can Play, the anti-homophobia in
sports campaign, has said that he's opposed to a boycott of next
year's Winter Olympics in Sochi over a recently approved Russian law
that prohibits “gay propaganda.”
The law bans the positive portrayal of gay men and lesbians in a
venue where minors might be present, effectively outlawing everything
from Gay Pride marches to the simple act of wearing a rainbow pride
pin in public.
Passage of the law has sparked worldwide condemnation, including
calls to boycott the Sochi Games.
“A boycott won't change anything. It's not like the Russians
are going to say, 'You are right – these laws are terrible,'”
Burke told USA
TODAY Sports. “It's going to be a two-day story, maybe a week,
if there is a boycott. But if we go, and then we have athletes and
people talking about this on a daily basis for three straight weeks,
it's way more valuable to the LGBT community.”
Burke called the laws “draconian.”
“The laws are absurd, insulting and shameful. You are talking
about laws that are in a culture in Russia right now where gay people
are being beaten in the street. They are being arrested. Gay
parents can lose their children. You are talking about draconian
laws,” he said, referring to a proposed law that aims to outlaw gay
parents in Russia.
Burke, a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers, is the brother of
Brendan Burke, who came out gay while manager of the Miami University
ice hockey team. In 2010, he was killed in a car accident. Patrick
Burke and his father Brian Burke, the former general manager of the
Toronto Maple Leafs and current part-time pro scout for the Anaheim
Ducks, founded You Can Play in memory of Brendan.
sports minister Vitaly Mutko likens being gay to drug abuse.)