US Senator Edward Markey: I am very concerned for LGBT athletes attending the Winter Olympics in Russia

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A US senator has condemned the Russian Government for presiding over “hateful” legislation and says “it is essential” for LGBT athletes and their families to feel safe attending the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

In letter to Russia’s Ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, US Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey, said: “I am especially concerned with the provision of the law that allows for the possible detention of foreign citizens for up to 14 days before they would be expelled from the country.”

Four Dutch tourists producing a film about homophobia in Russia were arrested last month and then deported for violating censorship laws on LGBT expression.

Senator Markey added: “Many members of international athletic delegations, their families, spectators, and support staff proudly identify as members of the LGBT community. I believe it is essential for them to both feel and be safe from arrest, detention, and other forms of discrimination while in Russia.”

Ambassador Kislyak is yet to respond publicly to the letter.

Last month, UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg urged Russia to protect the rights of LGBT people following concerns about LGBT athletes and spectators attending the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Speaking exclusively to, the Liberal Democrat leader said: “It is just totally out of order it is unacceptable in this day and age for any athlete to feel in anyway intimidated or certainly to be discriminated against because of their sexuality.”

An online petition at asking Olympic sponsors to condemn Russia’s anti-gay laws has received more than 73,500 signatures.

However, corporate sponsors Coca-Cola and Visa have decided not to intervene.

In a statement to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, Coca-Cola said: “The Coca-Cola Company does not take positions on political matters unrelated to our business. Our Global Mutual Respect Policy sets out our expectations for how our associates should treat one another and everyone they interact with on behalf of the company.  We do not condone intolerance of any kind.”

“We have no comment at this time,” said a Visa spokesman.