Google Doodle Has Winter Olympics Theme, Dig at Russia's Homosexuality Laws

Mark PattersonUK Staff WriterFebruary 7, 2014

Greece's Panagiota Tsakiri passes by the Olympic rings in the Cross Country stadium prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Google - Screengrab

As the Winter Olympics in Sochi get underway Friday with the opening ceremony, Google have redesigned their home page for the day with an Olympic message which takes a swipe at Russia's controversial laws on homosexuality.

Their popular Google Doodle shows a series of Winter Olympic sports such as Alpine skiing, curling and figure skating set against the colours of the rainbow.

And their statement underneath, taken from the Olympic charter, calls for equality:

The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.

Russian attitudes toward homosexuality have dominated the build-up to Sochi. 

Laws were passed in 2013 which outlawed the promotion of "non-traditional sexual relations" to minors, as the Huffington Post's Lisa Chau, among others, recorded.

President Vladimir Putin made several attempts to calm the storm, but concerns have persisted.

Only last week, the mayor of Sochi claimed on the BBC's Panorama programme, as reported by the Daily Mirror's Ben Rossington, that there were no gay people in his city of approximately 340,000 people.

Reuters' Timothy Heritage adds some more background to the media furore over Russian attitudes:

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned sexual discrimination and attacks on homosexuals in a speech to the International Olympic Committee in Sochi on Thursday which also drew attention to Russia's record on gay rights.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said shortly afterwards in Sochi that there would be no discrimination at the Games, due to open later on Friday.

"We're all grown-ups and every adult has the right to understand their sexuality," Kozak said. But, echoing a remark by Putin, he added: "Please do not touch kids."