On 29 March, we will celebrate the first marriages of same-sex couples in England and Wales, and GLLAM 2014. We should be very grateful for our equal rights and freedoms in the UK, because neither same-sex marriage nor LGBT swimming is possible in Russia at the moment.
Rob Wintemute attempted to represent Out To Swim as the only British participant at the Russian (LGBT) Open Games, held in Moscow from 26 Feb to 3 March, right after the Sochi Winter Olympics. Unfortunately, the Russian Open Games suffered serious disruption, as a result of last-minute cancellation of sports venues, bomb threats, and a real smoke bomb at the basketball venue. After the organisers’ original swimming pool booking was cancelled, and their last-minute replacement booking was cancelled (because of a bomb threat?), they were unable to find another pool in the Moscow area that would accept their booking. This meant that there was no swimming competition. Elvina Yuvakaeva and Konstantin Yablotskiy, Co-Presidents of the Russian LGBT Sport Federation, kindly awarded Rob a gold medal for supporting the Games! He also met Greg Louganis, the openly gay winner of 4 Olympic diving gold medals, at the opening ceremony. Presenters of medals for sports other than swimming included the Dutch Minister for Sport, the Dutch Ambassador, and the Norwegian Deputy Ambassador. The US Embassy held a (smokebomb-free) basketball game at the Embassy between its diplomats and the organisers of the Games. Rob’s attempt to swim on his own in Moscow’s 1980 Olympic pool was thwarted by a rule that all swimmers must present a medical certificate before using the pool!
Prof. Robert Wintemute (Professor of Human Rights Law)
School of Law, King's College London, Strand