Russia's stringent anti-gay propaganda law has become a focal point of protest for LBGT advocates worldwide. The law mandates fines or imprisonment for the spreading of "gay propaganda." But that would seem to fly in the face of the Olympic charter itself, and now, a new campaign is bringing that disparity to the fore.
Proposition 6 of the Olympic charter notes that “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.” Accordingly, American Apparel and other retailers have begun selling apparel adorned with "P6" and "Proposition 6," as shown above. The campaign is an effort by the organizations Athlete Ally and All Out, with assistance from a company called Idea Brand and former Baltimore Raven Brendan Ayanbadejo.
"In Russia, you can be fined or arrested for speaking out publicly about gay, lesbian, bi or trans issues," the P6 website notes. "The Principle 6 campaign uses the language of the Olympic Charter to allow athletes and fans to speak out against this discrimination during the Sochi Games without violating Russian anti-gay laws or violating the Olympic ban on political speech."
It's a clever inversion: making a point without using anything but the Olympics' own language. This angle is less overt but no less meaningful than other gestures under consideration, such as wearing rainbow pins, carrying rainbow flags, or having members of the same gender hold hands during Opening or Closing ceremonies.
Celebrated fashion designer Alexander Wang has added weight and legitimacy to the campaign with a P6 design of his own, which will premiere in Vogue magazine. And dozens of former Olympians have signed onto the campaign. This is an issue that's not going away, no matter how much officials in both Russia and the Olympics themselves might wish it so.