Media focus on Russia’s anti-gay laws


Friday is the official start of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia; however, the biggest story coming out of Sochi has little to pertain to the games at all.

From the homepage of Google to the breaking headline of any online news source, there is no doubt that the media is fighting back against Russia’s anti-gay policies being enforced as the Winter Games ensue.

The law, which criminalizes any discussion of gay rights in the presence of minors, is an example of the unfortunate reality we live in — discrimination continues to persist in many parts of the world. According to the Associated Press, gay activists have been penalized across Russia ever since the law was implemented in 2013. Such a law only fuels hatred and justifies violence.

Yet, there is one global medium that has sided with civil rights — that is, the news media.

Google’s “Doodle” on its search homepage, which debuted on Thursday night, is its logo with an illustration incorporating the colors of the rainbow. It has been seen around the world, even Russia, and has sparked both cheer and outrage. Below the logo was a subtle, yet powerful, message in clear support of equality for all.

Google, a worldwide corporation, has taken a stand to publicly show support for LGBT people who are struggling for equality around the world.  According to Google’s website, “every day Google answers more than one billion questions from people around the globe in 181 countries and 146 languages.”

That is, roughly one billion people a day, whether aware so or not, will glance at that logo and be aesthetically drawn to the colors of the rainbow — the official colors of the pride flag. It is in these subtle ways that the media and many major corporations have brilliantly managed to maintain the principles in which they stand for — delivering to all the people.

Google is not alone. Three official sponsors of the U.S. Olympic Committee, Chobani, AT&T, and DeVry University, have taken public stands against the anti-gay law in Russia as well.

These positive actions have outshined the media’s coverage of the anti-gay law itself. Their public defense of the LGBT community during one of the world’s most televised events, the Winter Olympics, is an indicator of how both companies and the media can work hand-in-hand to create change in this society. These efforts that are seen, read, and heard through media outlets can influence government policies around the world.

While mainstream media does not hold the opinions of every individual, it is the one domain that can have the largest positive impact on society.

The debate on what is the “proper” media representation of the LGBT community is still ongoing, but there is not doubt that major companies’ positive actions can create a domino effect on other companies to follow suit. In this day and age, showing public support via media platforms is vital in order to effectively communicate any message, especially one of equality.

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