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Sochi and Beyond

Published on March 17, 2014

Russia's Anti-Gay Legislation, Human Rights and the Practice of History 

Panel will take place on Sunday (8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.), 25 May 2014 at the CHA Annual Conference, Brock University, St. Catharines (South Block 215)

Russia's so-termed anti-gay propaganda law, passed in 2013 by the Russian parliament, raises an array of issues relating to the status and rights of LGBT people in Russia, the lack of specific protections in the Olympic Charter relating to sexual orientation, and expected negative impacts of this law on scholarship in history, the humanities and social sciences. The roundtable brings together the perspectives of Erica Fraser, historian of Russia and Eastern Europe; Michael Dawson, historian of sport and popular culture; Lyle Dick, past-president of the CHA and practitioner of LGBT history; and CHA President Dominique Marshall, a specialist on Canada's transnational history.  The panel will be chaired by Yves Frenette, Chair of Advocacy for the Canadian Historical Association.  It will consider the historical background to Russia's anti-gay law and its justifications in "traditional values," the status of LGBT human rights in the context of the Olympic movement, the particular challenges confronting researchers of LGBT history in Russia in light of Canadian experience, and the position of the Canadian Historical Association on the Russian law in terms of its core mandate and practice of defending the human rights of historians.

The following topics will be discussed at this roundtable:

Michael Dawson will contextualize developments in Sochi by exploring a number of inter-related issues including the IOC’s previous positions on human rights abuses, its history of gender-verification tests, instances of homophobia among athletes and coaches at international sports events, and contemporary North American expressions of opposition to the Russian laws.

Lyle Dick will speak on the challenges historically confronting researchers of LGBT history in Canada as background to considering current threats to the practice of queer history research and implications for general scholarship in history, the humanities and social sciences, both within and beyond Russia.

Erica Fraser will examine the historical context of LGBT rights and laws in the Soviet Union in relation to current challenges to the rights of LGBT people and other citizens of Russia under the anti-gay propaganda law of 2013 and other anti-LGBT measures currently being contemplated or implemented within the Russian Federation.  

Dominique Marshall will speak on Canada's historical participation in human rights efforts around the globe in the 20th century and relationships to current challenges to the human rights of LGBT people in Russia, the CHA's mandate of defending the human rights of historians in Canada and other countries, and its current position affirming the right of scholars of history anywhere to study the past free from coercion or intimidation.  

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