September 26, 2020

BY NICOLE NEMETH

A Russian memorial to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was taken down just one day after Tim Cook, Job’s predecessor, announced he was gay.

The more than six-foot-tall iPhone statue was placed on Saint Petersburg University in January 2013 by a Russian group of companies called ZEFS. It was removed on Oct. 31 because, according to ZEFS, it violated Russia’s law against “gay propaganda.”

The law, which was passed last year by the Russian government a few months after ZEFS put up the iPhone statue, prohibits educating minors about homosexuality. The “gay propaganda” law caused a huge uproar right before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and is thought to be the cause behind an increase in homophobic attacks.

Not only was the memorial dismantled, but Russian politician Vitaly Milonov called for Cook to be banned from entering Russia because he is gay.

No matter who someone is, whether they’re a well-known name or an average citizen, their sexual orientation should not negatively affect them or their day-to-day life. The sad truth is that it often does.

Apple has been a great company of innovation as well as supportive of equal rights to all, with Cook giving many speeches, writing columns and even standing up to Congress in his quest for equal rights.

It is shameful that in our society today there are people who are hateful toward other people for something like sexual orientation. I hope, as the Olympians did when the anti-gay law passed in Russia, more people will stand up against homophobic acts and comments, and that Cook’s coming out will continue to encourage and inspire people despite the hateful comments from Russian politicians.

Unfortunately Russia isn’t the only country that opposes gay rights.

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association lists 78 countries with criminal laws against sexual activity, some of which have the death penalty for homosexual acts.

There’s no way to really tell if Cook’s coming out will have negative effects on Apple, but I hope it doesn’t.

“Let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me,” he wrote in an essay titled Tim Cook Speaks Up, published in Bloomberg Businessweek on Oct. 30.

“I’ve made Apple my life’s work, and I will continue to spend virtually all of my waking time focused on being the best CEO I can be.”

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