What did Isinbayeva say?

A curious little twist is developing in the story of Putin’s law banning the promotion of homosexuality. The champion pole-vaulter and Russian poster girl, Yelena Isinbayeva, has spoken out on the subject, creating quite a stir. Her utterings were reported by the BBC under the heading “Isinbayeva speaks out against homosexuality”:


If you read the article in its entirety you will realise that the title is misleading; Isinbayeva did not speak out against homosexuality at all. In fact she did say that (this is a direct quote, as reported by the BBC):

“We are against publicity but we are not of course about [against?] every choice of every single person. It’s their life, it’s their choice, it’s their feelings, but we’re just against the publicity in our country and I support that.”

What the furore is about are her other comments:

“Everyone can participate, everyone can compete, but of course if they will promote sexual relations outside in the street it won’t be respectable for a lot of our citizens because we are all, from inside of us, against it.”

She appears to be correct in claiming to be voicing a popular view in Russia:

Former GB athlete and BBC expert Jonathan Edwards told BBC Radio 5 live many Russians would back their favourite sporting daughter. “She’s a product of a society in which she lives,” said Edwards. “Over 90% of the population would endorse what Isinbayeva said, however abhorrent we find it in the UK.”

Others chipped in with their moral outrage at Isinbayeva publicly expressing what most of her compatriots appear to agree with:

Lewis said: “She is clearly not in touch with the rest of the world. I’m surprised her management didn’t advise her to be a little more cautious with throwing her views out there. This is clearly very damning for her as a global superstar.”

And former US track star Johnson told BBC Sport: “She is very popular over here with a small group of people who are very powerful and who probably buy into that view in this country. It is very flawed judgement and a very flawed opinion.”

A bit judgemental to talk of “flawed opinions”, I would have thought. While I personally view the Russian law in question as populist and silly I also accept their right to have laws I do not necessarily agree with. Which brings me to the crux of the matter, best illustrated by another direct quote from Isinbayeva:

“We are Russians. Maybe we are different than European people, than other people from different lands. We have our law which everyone has to respect. It’s my opinion also.”

Now, BBC fashion themselves as champions of cultural relativism. Everyone should be free to live by their own rules within their own little community, defined along religious or ethnic lines. BBC have been known to turn the blind eye to ugly goings on like suppression of women and self-righteousness in Islam, FGM, persecution of Christians etc. They even dress their own female reporters to the Muslim countries – western, intelligent, educated women – in the head-covering rags. When in Yemen do as Yemenis do but in Moscow do as Amsterdam does?

Even more to the point, the BBC are curiously silent when it comes to exposing the plight of gay people living in Muslim countries. Some of these countries officially have a death penalty for homosexuals on their sharia-inspired statues. There are many countries where gays are much worse off than in Putin’s Russia, although you would not know it from reading the BBC news service. In a typical PC fashion they choose white Christian conservatives as their primary target – criticising people with a darker skin complexion is a no-no in the media circles. This hypocrisy blunts the message of tolerance the BBC are aspiring to promote.


Update: BBC have just upped the ante and the piece is now linked from the Top News window as “Isinbayeva defends anti-gay stance”

Isinbayeva (take two)


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