A petition has been launched demanding that NBC add lesbian journalist Rachel Maddow to its broadcast team for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi as ‘human rights correspondent.’
Truth Wins Out, a nonprofit organization that fights anti-LGBT extremism, wants Maddow on hand to deliver ‘hard-hitting pieces exposing the reality of what LGBT people, political dissidents and other minorities face every day under the Putin regime.’
Russia’s anti-gay laws and how they will impact Olympic athletes and visitors to the country have been the focus of various protests in recent weeks.
A recently enacted law criminalizes any kind of support, no matter how modest, of the LGBT community and includes a provision that allows the Russian government to arrest foreign tourists for up to 14 days for supporting LGBT equality.
‘The spotlight can be harsh, but Russia specifically asked for it when they submitted a bid and agreed to host the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi,’ said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. ‘People around the world want to watch and support the Olympics, but they want to do so with a clear conscience.’
Truth Wins Out Associate Director Evan Hurst adds: ‘Rachel has the expertise and the instincts to tell this full story to a viewing audience who are appalled by the treatment of their Russian brothers and sisters.’
‘Adding her to NBC’s coverage won’t fly in the face of the Olympic spirit, but rather enhance it, as there is nothing in the ethics or the history of the Olympic Games that can coexist peacefully with the war Russia is waging against her own citizens, and the rest of the world needs to know,’ Hurst says.
NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus told Gay Star News last week that the network has no plans to shy away from covering Russia anti-gay laws should they still be an issue when the games begin. ‘
When you’re there you need to be prepared to discuss them and inform the audience what athletes, fans, spectators might be dealing with.’
The Change.org petition had nearly 2,500 signatures as of Thursday afternoon.