Google stands up for LGBT rights with Sochi Olympics Doodle

Search giant Google has seemingly weighed in on the debate surrounding LGBT rights in Russia ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics, which officially begins today.

The company has decorated its homepage with a rainbow-coloured Google Doodle depicting Olympic sports such as skiing, snowboarding and curling that will feature at this year's Winter Olympics held in Sochi.

Beneath the search bar, users can also see a quote from the Olympic Charter, declaring that "The practice of sport is a human right."

The quote continues to say that "Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play."

The entire opening to the games has been overshadowed by a row over gay rights in Putin's Russia, which recently passed a law making the spreading of "gay propaganda" an offence that carries a prison sentence.

Google's Doodle changes every day, and is used to honour famous or influential figures, celebrate holidays or draw attention to causes. However, it's rare for the Doodle to be accompanied by text. The charter quotation even appeared in Russian on the Russian Google homepage, Google.ru.

Plagued with allegations of corruption and embezzlement, as well as appalling conditions in official accommodations – including an absence of clean running water – media outlets and social networks have overflowed with stories that portray Sochi 2014 in a less than flattering light.

This isn't the first time web companies have protested shifts in Russian politics. In 2012, Russian Wikipedia went dark for 24 hours over a controversial "Law on Information" that brought in a regime of widespread, Chinese-style content filtering.