The Geopolitics of Homosexuality

by lizard

Saudi Arabia hasn’t executed any homosexuals since 2002, when three men were beheaded. The consequences for being gay are mostly flogging and imprisonment.

I came across the above information in a Guardian piece from three years ago about a Saudi Arabian diplomat who asked the US for asylum:

Saudi Arabia may be a miserable place to live, but it’s not very often that a Saudi diplomat seeks refuge in the United States. The last time it happened was in 1994.

At the weekend, though, it emerged that Ali Ahmad Asseri, first secretary of the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, has applied for asylum in the US on the grounds that he is gay. He says his employers have refused to renew his diplomatic passport – effectively terminating his job – after finding out about his sexuality. He adds they were also unhappy about his friendship with a Jewish woman.

The Saudis are reportedly demanding his return to the kingdom, where Asseri fears he would be killed “in broad daylight”.

I mention this because Saudi Arabia’s domestic suppression of their citizens subjects’ sexual orientation will not be making headlines any time soon.

But what is making headlines, and eliciting a response from the president, is Russia’s domestic policy:

President Barack Obama said Friday that he did not favor boycotting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, rejecting calls from LGBT activists to do so over a new law banning so-called homosexual propaganda.

“I want to say very clearly. I do not think it’s appropriate to boycott the Olympics,” he said at a news conference. But he added that he hoped gay and lesbian American athletes would bring home medals and reiterated his opposition to the law.

“If Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, then it will probably make their team weaker,” he said.

A law signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in June bans “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations,” and the law is written so vaguely that many fear that it will be used to crack down against gays and lesbians broadly. Since foreigners who violate the law can potentially be deported, many fear LGBT athletes from other countries who are competing in the Olympics may be targeted.

“Nobody is more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and lesbian legislation than you’ve been seeing in Russia,” Obama said.

It’s too bad time, resources, and energy will be spent on boycotting the winter Olympics in Sochi because of this. Well-intentioned activists will be playing directly into the geopolitics lurking behind this issue, and the geopolitics is absolutely NOT concerned with improving equality for the LGBT community in Russia.


  1. I was extremely disappointed when Carter, a man whom I’ve always admired, decided to boycott the Olympics and to pressure other countries to do the same, over the invasion of Afghanistan.

    If anything, that enormous influx of foreign tourists, sports fans and reporters would have hastened the collapse of the Soviet Union, whereas Carter’s boycott didn’t do squat. It also robbed hundreds of the world’s best athletes from the U.S. and other nations, such as Kenya, of the opportunity to compete.

    Not only did it screw up the ’80 Olympics, which only Romania of all the Soviet bloc nations participated in, but there was a payback boycott of the ’84 Olympics in L.A. (which I attended) that also decreased the prestige of the games.

    This was back in the mostly pre-steroid days, when almost all the athletes were “clean.”

    • Oops. I meant that only Romania in the Soviet bloc participated in the ’84 Olympics.

      Like Obama tried to get South and Central American countries to refuse to give sanctuary to Snowden, we pressured a great many nations to join our ’80 boycott.

  2. lizard19

    I was born in 1978, so my Olympic experience has been dominated by watching the corporatizing/police-stating of the games.

  1. 1 Will Sochi Be Fun Like Munich? | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] My worry is that those using their time, energy, and resources will be doing so without giving enough thought to the geopolitics of homosexuality. […]




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