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Google Changes Homepage to Protest Russia's Anti-Gay Law

The move is the latest in a series of efforts designed to ensure that Olympics viewers are aware of a Russian law that vastly curtails free speech rights.

As the Winter Olympics kick off in Sochi, groups ranging from Google to human rights organizations are turning to digital media to protest a law that vastly curtails the free speech rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people throughout Russia.

In perhaps the most significant protest yet, Google changed its homepage (not just in the U.S., but also in Russia) to a rainbow-themed sports illustration that links to the portion of the Olympic Charter, known as Principle 6, that declares the right of people to participate in sport without discrimination of any kind.

Meanwhile, in a new YouTube video, a Canadian group shows two male athletes launching their luge to the tune of Human League’s ’80s hit “Don’t You Want Me.”

“The games have always been a little gay,” says the text at the end of the video, produced by the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion. “Let’s fight to keep them that way.”

The group is also encouraging Facebook users to change their profile picture to this silhouette of two lugers forming an equality sign.

LGBT groups have been putting pressure on Olympic sponsors to speak out against the Russian law. So far three U.S. Olympic sponsors have spoken out — AT&T, Chobani and DeVry University. However, while several of the global Olympic sponsors have spoken broadly in support of diversity and equality, none has specifically condemned the Russian law.

Others participating in the games have also found subtle ways of showing their support for LGBT rights. The U.S., for example, is sending a diplomatic delegation that includes prominent LGBT athletes. Germany, meanwhile, has rainbow-colored uniforms, though it maintains that wasn’t meant as a protest.

For a stark reminder on just why this law is such a big deal, check out this piece from the Verge on the kind of harassment that is taking place in Putin’s Russia.

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