Brian Burke: Russian anti-gay laws 'crush basic human rights'

Thomas Drance

Freshly minted Calgary Flames Team President and outspoken LGBT advocate Brian Burke penned a strongly worded editorial for Sports Illustrated last week, that just went live on the web today.  

In the piece Burke discusses the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the omnipresent specter of Russia's anti-gay laws and the prospect of a boycott. 

Burke strongly rejects the notion of a boycott, which would "punish the athletes who have worked so hard to make the team." However, he pledges to be "publicly pro-gay" while representing his country, USA Hockey, and the You Can Play Project at the Sochi games in Russia.

The column calls for the International Olympic Committee to guarantee the safety of LBGT athletes, media, guests and the families of athletes while at the games. It further calls for athletes to bring their rainbow pins to the games, and Burke pledges to outfit any interested athletes with You Can Play merchandise.

Finally Burke suggests that future international competitions in Russia should be banned "until these outrageous laws are repealed."

Burke's column reads something like an action plan, an outspoken alternative to a boycott. Though the games will go on in Sochi this February, Burke clearly intends to be heard and demonstrative. "Left unchecked, this sort of bigotry will only escalate," Burke writes, "The rest of the world cannot bear silent witness."