On boycotts and fairness

I think the UK and everyone in it should boycott the Russian Olympics, following the shocking treatment of LGBT people there and the Government’s stance against LGBT people.

To this, I’ve already heard the argument that this will hurt the people involved, who are not the Russian government.  Arguments similar to the ones put by US skater Johnny Weir, who doesn’t think the US athletes should boycott the winter games because it will hurt their careers and smash their dreams.

Now, I’m a big believer in following your dreams and regard at as being of the highest importance that people get to do so.

I also believe that people should be able to love who they love, and be who they are, without fear.

It just so happens that I have heard these arguments many times before.  It just so happens that I have za buckloads of personal experience of being at the other end of a boycott like the ones being proposed.

I grew up in South Africa during the boycotts and sanctions against apartheid, and had many of the same feelings – people who didn’t support the regime were suffering from the actions taken against the regime.

We were banned as a country from the Olympics for many years and I knew personally sportspeople who missed out on careers because of this.

I wasn’t able to see musicians I loved play live, or buy many of their albums, because of the sanctions (a big deal to a teenager!).

duran duran

Deprived, I was!

 

It seemed to me unfair and I couldn’t see why it was happening, I felt picked on as a South African even though I had done nothing wrong, I couldn’t even vote and my family were not racist.

For a long, long time I felt this.

Then, when time had passed and the horror had ended, and I studied what had happened and spoke to many people, I realised how key the international backlash against ‘all things South African’ was in abolishing apartheid.

I realised it was effective and worth it.

Apartheid was a bigger horror than us missing some Olympics, or being boycotted, or me not getting to see Duran Duran!

What is happening in Russia is also a horror too awful to ignore, and history shows us that the whole world turning against a country’s government for how it treats certain members of it’s citizenry WORKS.

Imagine it was your child, or somebody else you loved, being beaten up on the streets in Russia, just for being who they are, whilst the government allowed it to happen.  Would you still think an athlete’s career was more important?  Would you?  I didn’t think so.

I wish freedom and peace to Russia, a country that has seen very little of either in a very, very long time.

Boycotting may seem an odd way to show this, it may be painful process for some who do not deserve it, but it WORKS.

The boycotts against my country brought us this moment.  It was worth it.

Do you agree?  Sign the petition for the UK to boycott the Winter Games here.

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