In the run-up to the Sochi Olympics, life has got worse for the LGBT community, says a report from Human Rights Watch, citing harassment, humiliation and violent attacks fuelled by a "climate of intolerance." Read more >>
The cartoon, by Chris Riddell from The Observer, shows Russian President Vladimir Putin holding an Olympic torch. Behind him is an enormous bear marked 'Homophobia'. Putin tells us, "Ignore him. He's not really here."
According to Pink News, "Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied gay people are unwelcome at the Sochi Winter Olympics over anti-gay laws in the country, saying he is not prejudiced as he is on 'friendly terms' with several people who are gay." He also commented that gay people cannot 'feel inferior' in Russia because there is no professional, career, or social discrimination against them, citing Elton John as an example of a person who 'millions' of Russians love. However, many have taken his comments with a large pinch of salt ...
The cartoon caption, 'The Bear at the Olympics' is almost certainly meant to recall the expression 'the elephant in the room', a metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed. It is based on the idea that an elephant in a room would be impossible to overlook; thus, people in the room who pretend the elephant is not there have chosen to avoid dealing with the looming big issue. It's the same thing with Putin and homophobia, except that the elephant is a bear, the symbol of Russia. The huge, mean-looking bear also makes an ideal metaphor for homophobia.
Homophobia is an irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals. [Merriam-Webster]