The Chicago Blackhawks have decided not to wear their gay-themed jerseys during the team’s gay pride night on Sunday out of fear that their three Russian-born players may be put in jeopardy due to a new law outlawing “gay propaganda” recently enacted in their home country.
The Blackhawks have worn gay pride jerseys in the past. Still, this year they are skipping the tradition reportedly after conversations about player safety with security consultants, Fox News reported.
The Russian Duma recently passed a law that bans LGBT “propaganda” from various forms of media, including television, advertising, books, the Internet, and films. In addition, the law bans all non-traditional sexual relations from multiple forms of media and increases the scope of a prior law from 2013 that simply banned non-traditional sexual relations from being viewed by children. The law went into effect in November and was later upheld by the country’s court system.
The Blackhawks have three Russian native players, each with family still in Russia: defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, forward Philipp Kurashev, and Kazakh goaltender Anton Khudobin.
The other plans for the team’s gay pride night, though, will continue unimpeded. The Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus and DJ Zel will perform during intermissions, and the Chicago Gay Hockey Association will also perform during an intermission.
While their reasoning is unique, the Blackhawks are not the first players in the NHL to set aside their gay pride jerseys.
Last weekend, San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer opted out of wearing the jersey, citing his religious convictions. In January, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov also decided not to wear his team’s gay pride jersey for similar reasons. And that same month, the New York Rangers opted out of wearing the gay pride jersey.
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