A professional ice hockey team decided not to wear Pride jerseys because one of their players is Russian.
The Chicago Blackhawks will not wear their Pride Night commemoration pre-match jerseys on Sunday as a Russian law expands restrictions on activities deemed to promote LGBTQ rights.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation in December significantly tightening restrictions on activities seen as promoting LGBTQ rights in the country. It builds on a 2013 law and bans advertising, media and theatrical productions deemed “propaganda for non-traditional sexual relations”.
There are safety concerns about wearing the Pride jersey in the game against the Vancouver Canucks.
Blackhawks defender Nikita Zaitsev hails from Moscow.
The National Hockey League and Dan Milstein, who represents teams like the Blackhawks, declined to comment.
But Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson said he and the players are disappointed.
“It’s an unfortunate situation, but that’s what we have to deal with,” Richardson said.
“I don’t think we can control world problems, so it takes that out of our hands. We’re just making decisions as best we can as an organization and for everyone.’
The Blackhawks have previously worn Pride pre-match jerseys. The team has other programs planned to honor the pride. LGBTQ DJs will be DJing before the game and the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus will sing during an intermission.
“We don’t want the shirts to represent the whole night,” said Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones.
“We still do a lot for the LGBTQ community and we as players respect that. We just thought this was the best thing for our team. We know the organization puts the players first.’
Russian players from other teams have already opted to wear Pride jerseys, including Nikolai Knyzhov and Alexander Barabanov, who play for the San Jose Sharks.
Pride Nights are coming up for the Canucks and Buffalo Sabers. The Canucks have yet to announce their plans and the Sabers are still in talks about it.
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