Vancouver's openly gay deputy mayor is going to Sochi on a mission

Player utilities

Listen to the story.

Marco Werman: Will there be enough snow? Will new transport systems work? Will arenas be ready? Yeah, pretty typical concerns for any city getting ready to host a Winter Olympics. But in the Russian city of Sochi, where the 2014 Winter Olympics are just weeks away, there's a bigger problem. You'll remember that the Russian parliament passed a law earlier this year that makes it illegal to spread propaganda for nontraditional sexual relations to minors. The punishment? Very steep fines. The law has lead to calls for boycotts and protests. Now, the last city to host the Winter Olympics is making its voice heard. Vancouver has decided to send its openly gay deputy mayor, Tim Stevenson, to represent it in Sochi. Councilman Stevenson joins us now. Tell us why you are going to Sochi, Mr. Stevenson. Tim Stevenson: Basically to speak to the IOC. The IOC members meet several days before the actual start of the Olympics, and so I'm going meet with them hopefully and try to convince them that the IOC needs to change its charter. At the moment, it does not explicitly say sexual orientation in the charter, and so we want to make sure that sexual orientation is enshrined - basic human rights in the charter and so I'm going over there to convince them, or try to convince them, that's necessary. Secondly, here in Vancouver and in Whistler, when we had the Olympic games, for the first time we opened a pride house and this was a safe house where GLBT Olympic athletes could find refuge, could come and meet with one another, their family, their friends, supporters, and so on. But the Russian government has refused to allow a pride house in Sochi, so I want to speak to the IOC to convince them that from here on out there must be a pride house at every Olympics and that any city bidding for the Olympics must include a pride house. Werman: Does the IOC show any inclination to doing either of these things? To changing their charter and to opening up this pride house in Sochi? Stevenson: Well they're making warm and fuzzy noises here because of all of the controversy around this issue in the summertime - when we had our pride parade across the country, the COC, the Canadian Olympic Committee entered into the parade. They made sure they went to every city that had pride parades and they wanted to say "No, this isn't an issue, you see, we're very supportive." So, it's just as a matter of putting political pressure and convincing them that this is needed Werman: What about the calls for boycotts of the Winter Olympics? Why not just keep the Canadian team at home? Stevenson: I don't think you'd garner enough support around the world for that. You know, to tell athletes "Well, sorry, you're going to have to sit this one out." It would be a pretty tough thing and a pretty tough sell, I think. And we just feel that it's our responsibility, as the last host city, to do something. If not us, who? And I'm the only openly gay councilor on our council, so if not me, then obviously who? Why would other people stand up and take this on? Werman: Tim Stevenson, a Vancouver city councilor and deputy mayor there. Thank you very much for your time. Safe trip. Stevenson: Thank you.