Sochi, Human Rights, and the Uncomfortable Reality

Quinn Rooney

This is a hockey blog and hockey is going to Sochi. There are human rights violations in Sochi but there are also some in Canada and the US that are not being talked about.

There is an uncomfortable reality that Canadians and Americans should feel when talking about the gross human rights violations, but can we really get all high and mighty about how this would never be allowed to happen on this side of the Atlantic? No we should not because even though in Canada LGBTQ people have equal rights things are not always as they seem.

In Canada there is the gay blood donation rules. These rules place unneeded restrictions on men even though Canadian Blood Services is constantly asking for donations because they are short on blood. This law has been amended recently but still discriminates against gay men who have had intercourse within the last five years from donating blood.

In the US there is the whole marriage debate but there are more issues than just the marriage debate; there is the issue the fact that discrimination is still allowed when hiring people for jobs, and there are still states in which any discussion about LBGTQ issues is illegal*. These are issues with LGBTQ rights that are not being talked about while we discuss the plight of the LGBTQ community in Russia and we should be discussing both openly to move forward with LGBTQ equality.

There is also the entire issue of the migrant workers. If you can remember Canada has migrant workers as well and although they are treated well in Canada there are still some issues in regards to their personal health and safety. They do not get proper on the job safety training making their jobs more dangerous than the same job would be for Canadian born workers. Yet they are only spoken of when tragedy occurs. These are just two examples of the disconnect we show when we talk about the human rights violations in Russia without acknowledging that we have some in our own countries.

This is not meant to marginalize what is happening in Russia right now. This is meant to put things into perspective that North America is a beacon for human rights. We aren't and we should acknowledge that while still talking about Russia. This article does not talk about Canada's long history of human rights violations including the internment of Japanese Canadians during WWII and the use of Chinese labourers to build the railroad. Most of all, let's talk about Sochi, sports, and all the weird, wonderful, and sad things that will come out of there. And let's not think like this (my sarcasm detector is currently turned off so forgive me if this was meant to be sarcastic)

*There are four states listed in the article. Refer to the map in the tweet for all the states that fall under this issue.

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